GmailGoogle have recently found themselves in hot water with a group of students in California who have decided to sue the tech giant, claiming the monitoring of Gmail messages violates state and federal privacy laws.

The complaint has been made by nine students whose emails fell under the eyes of Google surveillance due to the fact that Gmail is a component of Apps for Education, a free web-based suite of educational tools which has over 30 million users worldwide. A district court is currently studying the complaint.

According to a representative from Google, Gmail messages are scanned and indexed for all users of the Apps for Education suite. The data collected is used for advertising and other purposes.

Experts in the US believe the case could have major ramifications, not least for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy ACT (FERPA), which was originally issued in 1974. FERPA was brought in to protect the records of students under the age of 18. Most users of Apps for Education are reported to be below that age.

The students suing Google are looking for class action certification for their case. Although the assigned judge has confirmed related suits against Google would not be combined with this case, if the students are successful, it could result in a payment to millions of Gmail users.

The case continues.