Privacy foundation Noyb files complaint against Google over advertising in Gmail

The Austrian privacy organization Noyb has filed a complaint with the French data protection authority CNIL against Google. The tech giant would violate a ruling of the European Court of Justice with advertisements within Gmail.

According to the privacy foundation, Google is doing direct marketing with advertisements that resemble normal e-mails. Google indeed shows users emails containing links to third-party websites or to promote its own services. According to Noyb, this practice falls under the ePrivacy guidelines and therefore users should expressly consent to such ‘mails’.

Last year it did European Court of Justice a ruling about ‘inbox ads’; if an advertisement visually resembles a normal e-mail, a recipient must first have given explicit permission for this. In that case, such advertising is allowed.

Noyb labels the relevant advertising messages within Gmail as spam, further writing, “Spam is a commercial email that is sent without permission. And that’s illegal. Spam doesn’t become legal just because it’s generated by the email provider.”

It is probably no coincidence that the complaint was actually submitted to the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés. The French privacy regulator is known as an organization that takes action relatively often in such situations. For example, the CNIL previously demanded fines from Google and Facebook for controversial cookie practices and Google Analytics was banned because this would be in violation of the GDPR.

Image via Noyb

Update, 3:42 pm: In the original intro, Noyb was described as a ‘privacy supervisor’, which can give the impression that he is a government agency. Noyb, on the other hand, is an independent foundation. The article has been adapted on the basis of this nuance. Thanks to TheOmen.