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Does Gmail Conflict with International Privacy Laws?

Posted: March 27th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Privacy & Security | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

An article from Canada’s Globe and Mail talks about some of the data privacy concerns facing Gmail users outside the US. Canada, like the UK and other countries outside of the US, has strong data protection laws for individuals. Canadian companies are required by law to keep user’s data private, and inform their users should any access occur. However Google is based in the US, and thus falls under the remit of the ever more evil and invasive US PATRIOT Act which allows the US Authorities to monitor, read and laugh at pretty much any email communication on a server in their jurisdiction.

Companies that use Google’s corporate services to provide email and other capabilities to their employees could be falling foul of a mix of international regulations. This either makes their use of Google’s services untenable going forward, or maybe Google just needs to start fragmenting into localized companies to deal with this issue. I’m not sure if just hosting the mail servers in each country mitigates the legal issues, or whether the parent company being US based is the main requirement, but I suspect that overseas servers would at least make the US enforcement services need to get a warrant of some kind for suspected ‘terrorists’ rather than ‘all you can eat’ data access for the 99.9999999% of innocent people in the US.