The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Article: Google's GMail faces fight on privacy 

Privacy International has filed a complaint against GMail, Google's new web-based e-mail service that offers 1GB of storage. The complaint has been filed in a number of jurisdictions, including Canada.

Privacy International: "PI intensifies pressure on Google's Gmail service

Privacy International has filed a complaint asking the privacy and data protection commissions in France,Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Austria,Australia and Canada along with the European Commission and the EU Commissioners internal Article 29 Data Protection Working Group to investigate the serious privacy problems that Google's Gmail service poses."

The most reported aspect of the privacy concerns revolve around Google's intention of serving ads that are based on the content of e-mails. There is also a concern related to the amount of storage offered and the risks that may be associated with it.

See the following media coverage:

London Free Press: Business Section - Google faces fight on privacy: "Google's free e-mail service, Gmail, has come under attack by privacy rights groups that claim it violates privacy laws in many countries. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) offer free e-mail with a limited amount of space to store messages. Gmail's generous 1GB storage capacity comes at a price -- the user's exposure to targeted advertisements based on the contents of their e-mails.

Google's free e-mail storage capacity is more than 100 times that offered by established rivals such as Yahoo and Hotmail. The service is promoted as a means for a user to create a centralized and permanent e-mail archive.

Privacy International filed complaints against Gmail with privacy regulators in Australia, Canada and 15 countries in Europe. " > News > Technology -- Google's free Gmail service comes under fire overseas: "Google's free e-mail service Gmail is under fresh fire from an international privacy rights group that said the soon-to-be-launched service violated privacy laws across Europe and elsewhere.

Privacy International, which has offices in the United States and Europe, said it filed complaints with privacy and data-protection regulators in Europe, Canada and Australia. It had already filed an initial complaint in Britain. "

Bits & Bytes for April 22, 2004: "Google Pressured On Privacy

Yet more Google news: the search giant's plans to include contextually targeted ads in its still-in-beta free e-mail service, Gmail, have drawn more fire.

The search giant intends to have its technology scan the content of e-mail messages, and target ads accordingly. The plan has generated privacy concerns and widespread criticism.

The free consumer service comes with 1 gigabyte of storage and the ability to easily search through old messages. The price of that is letting the company apply its highly successful keyword-advertising infrastructure to the content of the messages. Privacy International is the latest group to protest on grounds of privacy. The group filed a complaint Monday asking privacy and data protection commissions in sixteen countries to investigate potential invasion of consumers' privacy.

The international electronic privacy watchdog complained that the proposed service violates several statutes of the European Union's Data Protection law.

Google says what's drawing concern is what computers are capable of doing, not what the company does in reality. 'We pride ourselves in protecting users' data and holding ourselves to the highest standard,' said Wayne Rosing, VP of engineering for Google.

'We do not keep that data in correlated form, it's separated in various ways and we have policies inside the company that do not allow that kind of correlation to happen. We consider any program or programming that correlates user data with user identity to be a violation of trust and we do not do that,' said Rosing."

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