Noyb.eu, an Austria-based advocacy group, announced today that it has filed a complaint with the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) against Google for sending advertising emails without user consent.
According to the complaint, Google, which generates the majority of its revenue from online advertisements, violated the European Union’s ePrivacy Directive by sending ad emails to users without getting their prior consent when they first sign up for the service.
‘’The tech giant has repeatedly ignored the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling on direct marketing emails and used its email platform Gmail to send unsolicited advertising emails without valid consent of the users,’’ noyb said in a statement.
The non-profit organization said that while Google’s ad emails appear like regular ones, the company displays the ‘Ad’ label in green letters on the left-hand side, underneath the mail subject. They also don’t include any date information, according to the complaint.
“It is quite simple. Spam is a commercial email sent without consent. And it is illegal. Spam does not become legal just because it is generated by the email provider,” said Romain Robert, a data protection lawyer at noyb.
While Google hasn’t commented on the subject yet, a CNIL spokesperson confirmed that the complaint had been received.
The group stated that it chose CNIL since the complaint is related to the ePrivacy Directive rather than GDPR, and CNIL has the authority to decide and fine the tech company without consulting with other DPAs.
In January, the French watchdog fined Google a record of €150 million ($149 million) and Facebook €60 million ($59,5 million) for not offering a clear option to refuse online cookies.