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Google to End Pilot Program That Let Political Emails Avoid Spam Filters

The tech giant is also asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit by the Republican National Committee that accuses the company of biased spam filtering.

Gmail, Google's ubiquitous email service
Google has denied any political bias in how it sorts email.
James Martin/CNET

A pilot program that let some political campaign emails bypass spam filters in Gmail is shutting down at the end of this month. Google confirmed the Jan. 31 end date in a legal filing Monday. The tech giant is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Republican National Committee that accuses it of disproportionately sending conservative political emails to spam. 

Google launched the pilot program last year after conservatives leveled charges of political bias against the company, claiming that Republican fundraising emails were more likely to be sent to spam than fundraising emails from Democrats were. 

The RNC reportedly said the pilot program didn't go far enough. In October, it filed a lawsuit accusing Google of censoring Republican fundraising emails.

Google has denied any political bias in how it sorts email.

"The RNC is wrong," reads the motion filed Monday. "Gmail's spam filtering policies apply equally to emails from all senders, whether they are politically affiliated or not." 

When reached for comment, Google spokesperson José Castañeda reiterated that the company doesn't "filter emails for political purposes" and said the "suit is without merit."

Last week, the Federal Election Committee, which approved Google's campaign email test, said there was "no reason to believe" that the tech giant intentionally directed conservative emails to spam, reported The Wall Street Journal.