2nd Floor, Lancaster House,
33 Islington High Street,
London N1 9LH, UK
Complaint filed with privacy & data protection regulators of 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
(amended according to the relevant national legal environment)
Complaint: Google Inc – Gmail email service.
19th April 2004
I am writing with regard to a new Webmail service that is being established at an
international level by Google Inc, a US based company that operates the world’s most
popular Internet search engine.
You may be aware that Google announced on April 1st this year that it will offer an
email service which will provide each customer with one gigabyte of storage space.
That is, around 500,000 pages of email per user. The service is being promoted as a
means of creating a centralised and permanent archive of all email. Gmail says
“Google believes people should be able to hold onto their mail forever.” (1) While
this may not currently be possible even at the one gigabyte level, the availability of
the Gmail service will entice many users to maintain a single account, rather than
having several, as many currently do.
However, the Gmail service will electronically scan the subject headers and contents
of all these private emails to generate targeted advertisements relevant to the email
The Gmail service has already prompted substantial criticism from privacy and
consumer groups both in the US and in Europe. (2) It has also generated a
considerable amount of media controversy (3). Privacy International and many of its
members across Europe are concerned that this service, currently in its Beta testing
stage, violates a number of elements of Data Protection law.
This complaint is made under subject rights set out in Data Protection legislation, and
also within the terms of Article