Last month, longtime Google critic Consumer Watchdog whipped up turmoil for Google when the privacy-focused group pointed to a legal argument Google attorneys had made about the class-action lawsuit.
"Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people who use Web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient's ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery," Google's attorneys wrote in a motion ( download PDF).
And then, quoting a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, they added, "Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties."
When that comment became public, it unleashed an online firestorm about Google's privacy policies and a debate about whether people should expect privacy in their personal or business emails.
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