RNC sues Google over email spam filters
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today filed a complaint against Google for violating anti-spam rules by allowing users to opt-out of spam by clicking a button without any warning, or taking other action once they had done so. The FCC suit alleges that Google did not comply with applicable anti-spam rules because its opt-out process for Google Contacts was only a “slightly faster opt out” than other companies, thereby effectively providing users with an “unconsidered” opt-out option.
The FTC suit charges, among other things, that in failing to provide relevant opt-out information and in not taking any meaningful action to protect users’ privacy after they had selected to opt-out, Google violated the FTC’s orders to provide the FTC with the details of its spam filters, or at the very least, provide the FCC with the technical information necessary to understand them.
“For years, the Internet has relied on Google’s Contacts service to help users manage contacts with the company and its partners, which was a critical first step to our adoption of Google Contacts,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, during a press conference this morning. Google has already indicated that it intends to settle the FTC case, and that settlement will not include a fine.
Google says the settlement will give the FTC full and complete access to its spam filters.
One of the major complaints of many Americans is that spam filters are blocking our mail and emails, causing a significant amount of unnecessary work and frustration for people using them.
The FTC says that it first discovered Google’s spam filters last fall after it sent a notice to Google alerting it to the practice. The FTC is concerned that for years Google has operated without any specific public policy or guidance to address user privacy or spam filtering.
“Google’s inaction on this issue cannot continue,” said FTC Chairwoman Michele M. B Heyl. “While we believe Google should have addressed the issue more than eight months ago, we hope Google will accept responsibility and resolve this problem before it becomes a major problem.”
The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Google to ensure that its products and features, as well as those of its partners, are free of spam filtering that violates the privacy of users.
Google has been a leader in spam filtering for many years. However, the FTC’s complaint questions Google’s spam filtering model