Google accused of spamming Gmail users with illegal ads

Google accused of spamming Gmail users with illegal ads

After the search engine, the YouTube video portal, the Android mobile operating system and the Google Analytics traffic analysis tool, it is the turn of Gmail, another Google flagship service, to be the object of a complaint before the National Commission of Computing and Liberties (Cnil). Once again, we are talking about advertising practices. The new dispute is presented by the association for the defense of online privacy Noyb -by None of your business, which can be translated as “it does not concern you”, which has already been illustrated by multiple complaints against the American Internet giants in the last years.

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They accuse Google of spamming their users with illegal ads

Specifically, Noyb accuses Google, screenshots in support, of using your Gmail mailbox to send, without your explicit consent, advertising to your users in emails, on behalf of the clients of your advertising services.

While Gmail successfully filters most external spam messages into a separate spam folder, unsolicited ads sent by Google are sent directly to the user’s inbox. It gives the impression that the user has subscribed to these emails or services, when in fact they have not obtained consent “, denounces Noyb in a press release.

Problem: The association believes this practice violates the European Electronic Privacy Directive, which prohibits companies from sending unsolicited advertisements electronically. The exception: having obtained the explicit prior consent of the Internet user. According to Noyb, this is not the case with Gmail. For lawyer Romain Robert, a member of Noyb, Google is simply advertising spam. Spam is commercial email sent without consent. And it is illegal. Spam does not become legal simply because it is generated by the email provider”he believes.

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Google continues complaints and fines for its advertising practices

The Cnil confirmed the filing of Noyb’s complaint, without giving further details. For its part, Google declined to comment.

The California giant’s practices are regularly attacked by regulators. In recent years, all or almost all of its services have been directed, either in France or in Europe. In France, None of Your Business is, with its French counterpart La Quadrature du Net, at the origin of its sentence to a 50 million euro fine by the Cnil, in 2019, for insufficient information from Android users about the exploitation of your personal information. Rebelote in 2021, when the Cnil sanctioned Google with a fine of 150 million euros for advertising cookies on and Youtube. The same year, Noyb also filed a complaint against the Android service with the Cnil for tracking Internet users for advertising purposes through the Android operating system, which equips 80% of the French smartphone market.

For its part, the French Competition Authority had sentenced Google to a fine of 150 million euros for abuse of a dominant position in the search engine advertising market (Google Ads). Google had appealed, but the fine was upheld on appeal in April 2022.

Noyb’s complaints are generally sound. The association founded by the Austrian activist Max Schrems has already had several successes against the American Internet giants. Specifically, the organization has already obtained twice, in 2015 and then in 2020, the cancellation of the agreement between the EU and the United States regarding the transfer of European data across the Atlantic, due to the depredation of personal data. enabled. by US extraterritorial laws such as the Cloud Act, which violate the European GDPR.