Lawmaker moves to block Google's Gmail

A California state senator on Monday said she was drafting legislation to block Google Inc.'s free e-mail service "Gmail" because it would place advertising in personal messages after searching them for key words.

"We think it's an absolute invasion of privacy. It's like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home," Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, California, said in a telephone interview. "We are asking them to rethink the whole product," she said. In late March, the world's No. 1 Web search company announced plans to launch Gmail -- a service that would offer users 1 gigabyte of free storage, more than 100 times the storage offered by other free services from Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

But in return for the extra storage, users would agree to let Google's technology scan their incoming e-mail, then deliver targeted ads based on key words in the messages. For instance, a user receiving a message about a friend's flu symptoms might also receive ads for cold and flu remedies. Gmail is now being tested with a limited number of users. Privacy advocates are assailing Gmail even before its formal launch. Google faces heavy opposition in Europe, where privacy laws are stricter than they are in the United States.

News source: CNN

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