Calif. Senator Moves to Block Google's Gmail

Gretchen Gallen
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – As Google's newly launched free email program Gmail continues to raise heated issues over privacy rights, California state Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, is throwing her clout into legislation that will block Google's email service from functioning.

Gmail has caught the attention of the Internet community lately because it places its AdWords in personal messages after performing an automated search of private incoming and outgoing emails. The web-based service also doesn't allow emails to be completely deleted from Google's servers, a detail that has raised additional invasion of privacy issues, although Google has repeatedly said that Gmail is fully compliant with data protection laws worldwide.

Figueroa was a leading figure in drafting the "Do-Not-Call" legislation that gives citizens a right to have their names removed from telemarketing lists. Figueroa reportedly wrote a letter to Google expressing concerns over the placement of advertising terms in user's emails.

Since Google's beta launch on April 1, numerous privacy groups have stepped forward asking that the service be stopped.

Gmail was intended to outshine other competitive free email services by offering users 1 gigabyte of free storage. MSN Hotmail only offers 2 megabytes, and Yahoo offers 4 megabytes.

But only a week after its launch, Google's Gmail clashed with a European citizen's group that claimed the free email service violated Europe's strict privacy laws which protect consumer's rights to their own communications.

The British government gave Gmail the green light this week with the understanding that its policy of keeping and accessing user emails is clearly presented to users. In the United States, the verdict is still out

"We think it's an absolute invasion of privacy," Figueroa said in a statement. "It's like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home." "We are asking [Google] to rethink the whole product."