Google 'unaware' of government plan to scrutinise Gmail
N 13 March 2013

Google 'unaware' of government plan to scrutinise Gmail

The Federal Antinonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) is going to check Google's Gmail for signs of unfair competition. The news leaked to the media Tuesday, and was later confirmed by FAS via its official Twitter account. "Google's robot reads users' letter to offer them targeted contextual ads. We'll check Google", the tweet said.

FAS officials believe Google may be "gaining excessive competitive advantage" when processing its subscribers' mail. "We are currently scrutinising the services for signs of violations; but Google itself does not deny there is a mail-analysing algorithm in use", FAS stated, adding that the inspection resulted from complains by users.

Some people, State Duma member Ilya Kostunov among them, accuse Google of breaching users' privacy by letting the robot read their emails. Mr. Kostunov said while many other Internet companies try to collect data on visitors in order to show them targeted ads, none but Gmail actually got so far as reading their private mail.

Google spokeswonam Alla Zabrovskaya said they were unaware of any government scrutiny planned for Gmail. Nobody is reading subscribers mail, she said, and the process of analysing messages is fully automated. Gmail has been using the scheme since its inception in 2004, Zabrovskaya explained, adding that Google also offers its users paid accounts that allow to switch off ads completely.