A motion filed by Google's attorneys dated July 13, 2013 notes that Gmail users should have no legitimate expectation of privacy. The filing, related to ongoing litigation about how the search giant operates the popular e-mail service, was unearthed by California-based consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

The motion notes that just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people that use web-based e-mail today cannot be surprised if their messages are processed by the recipient's e-mail provider.

Google claims the plaintiffs in the case are trying to criminalize an ordinary business practice, referring of course to the process of scanning incoming messages for the purpose of selling targeted advertising. The search giant contends that federal wiretap laws afford third-party e-mail providers immunity from litigation if the practices are performed within the ordinary scope of business.

In a statement on the matter, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director John M. Simpson said Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy. He said people should take them at their word and if you care about your e-mail correspondents' privacy then don't use Gmail.

The motion was uncovered less than a week after secure e-mail services Lavabit and Silent Circle closed down shop due to intense pressure from US authorities. In their absence, Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom vowed to release a secure e-mail service that would run on a non-US-based network.