A woman in the US has filed a class action suit against Google for scanning all e-mail sent to Gmail account holders to use for targeted advertising campaigns.
Debra Marquis filed the suit on behalf of Massachusetts residents who are not Gmail account holders, according to CNet.
The basis for the suit is that Google is scanning all e-mail sent to and from Gmail accounts, including those who are not Gmail account holders and have therefore not consented to the practice, which the suit alleges is a breach of a Massachusetts wiretapping law.
The suit is seeking damages of $100 a day for each violation or $1,000, whichever is greater, punitive damages, and an injunction to prevent Google from violating the specific Massachusetts law.
Google has refused to comment on the case, but confirmed that Gmail has always used automated scanning technology to show users relevant advertisements that help to keep the service free.
Google has faced similar suits and criticism from privacy groups in the past. Last month, a video promoting Microsoft's Office 365 appeared that features "Gmail Man", who inspects the contents of giant Gmail envelopes.
Video: Gmail Man
Two-thirds of US internet users objected to online tracking by advertisers in the first US study on behavioural advertising conducted by the universities of Pennsylvania and California, Berkeley in 2009.
A year later, a Gallup Poll study revealed that most people in the US do not want to be tracked on the internet and are unwilling to trade their privacy for web ads tailored to their interests.
Two-thirds of more than 800 US internet users surveyed said they do not believe advertisers should be able to tailor ads by collecting data about online activities.