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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

Information technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate; new forms of communication appear so often that it is difficult to keep track of them all. This presents a difficult problem for attorneys, who must carefully consider whether using new technology to communicate with clients is consistent with the duty of confidentiality. Google’s Gmail scans the content of e-mails to generate targeted advertising, a controversial practice that raises questions about whether its users have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The New York Bar responded to this issue in Opinion 820, which states that using an e-mail provider that scans the e-mail content to display relevant advertising does not violate a lawyer’s duty of client confidentiality. This article explains the controversial nature of Gmail, the evolution of e-mail in ethics opinions, and Opinion 820’s content and implications.

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