According to the Wiretap Act, it is illegal to
- Intentionally, or purposefully,
- Intercept, disclose, or use the contents of
- Any wire, oral, or electronic communication
- Through the use of a “device”
Taken at face value, that would mean Google is breaking the law when their computers scan Gmail messages in order to target ads to consumers. But Google says there’s an exception to the rule that applies. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), allows employers to monitor employee email in the ordinary course of business. Google claims that scanning email is just part of their business but a judge says no way.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh threw out Google’s request to dismiss the charges saying,