California residents have filed two class action lawsuits against Google and Yahoo, over alleged claims that the web giants illegally intercepted emails sent from non-Gmail users and non-Yahoo subscribers to Gmail and Yahoo users, without their knowledge, consent or permission.
“We began the investigation quite some time ago when a client came to us. They noticed that the ads within their email browser were strangely correlating to the incoming email they were getting from their friends. It creeps people out,” ABC News quoted a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, as saying.
In the suit, Stuart Diamond, David Sutton, both from a Marin County; and Roland Williams of Sonoma County, none of whom have personal Google or Yahoo email accounts, but have sent emails to people who do, alleged that Google and Yahoo are violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), which prohibits anyone from wiretapping or eavesdropping on emails without the consent, knowledge and permission of all parties.
“The invasion of privacy by wiretapping or, in the alternative, eavesdropping, caused by Google and Yahoo's! continual and pervasive use of such devices seriously threatens the exercise of personal liberties,” the lawyers claimed.
The suit, which is for unspecified financial damages, was filed on behalf of all residents of California who have not subscribed to the Google or Yahoo email service but have sent emails to people who are.
Yahoo declined to comment on the issue, but a Google spokesperson said, “We're not going to comment on the ongoing litigation. But to be clear, ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read users' emails or Google account information in order to show advertisements.”