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Google robot invaders face March challenge in privacy hearing

February 16, 2015, 16:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The company is summoned to face a lawsuit filed by a former candidate for the post of mayor in Russia’s Yekaterinburg, alleging that the search engine specialist was reading his private e-mails
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© EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Charges accusing internet giant Google robots of a programed invasion into personal privacy will be heard in Moscow next month, a city court announced on Monday.

The company is summoned to face a lawsuit filed by a former candidate for the post of mayor in Russia’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg, alleging that the search engine specialist was reading his private e-mails.

Anton Burkov is seeking action at Zamoskvoretsky court to block further alleged intrusion and moral damages of 50,000 rubles, almost $800. "I discovered it quite by accident," he revealed. "On the right side of my letters I saw an advertisement and realized that it contained data from my letters.

"This means Google’s robots are programed to collect information about users and provide contextual advertising," said the Urals city resident, noting that Russia's Constitution established the right to privacy of correspondence and that a Google user agreement was against the law.

The March 2 challenge is unlikely to be easy, he says, noting that "[US National Security Agency whistleblower] Edward Snowden is struggling to prevent the state from reading our correspondence" and complaining that "Google has no right to do this either".

Google in Russia is already pointing to a legal defense, telling the court the Russian operation was not liable in the case because it had no responsibility for the Gmail service and that the lawsuit should be filed against Google Inc. in the United States.

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