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Gmail raises privacy concerns


There has been a lot of talk lately about Google's announcement of its upcoming Gmail service, an online e-mail provider that would offer users 1 gigabyte of storage space. (see this post from April 2) Here is another article, from the Associated Press this morning, explaining some of the concerns.

The big worry is the concept of scanning e-mail in order to place advertisements related to the topics users write about in their e-mails. Another concern is that Google could keep copies of e-mail messages on its system, even if users had deleted them from their accounts. Privacy International, a London-based group, has filed a complaint against Google in the UK.


It's a non-issue for me. My yahoo account is my primary account, (as my gmail account will be when it goes live). The key factor is, email in general is insecure. I've been seriously nailed, unfortunately, more than once between people hacking into my accounts, or other unauthorized reading of emails. Privacy, for me, now anyway, is an imaginary term. You don't want people to know, don't put it in writing, at least on a computer.

For that reason, if it's that important, and has to be email, it goes through my ISP account. Otherwise it goes snail mail, where there are laws protecting me.

Besides, if I get an email discussing, say, my sex life, and Google keys in on the keywords, how is it going to be much different than the singles ads or banner ads featuring scantily clad women that come up on my Yahoo! mail anyway?

>email in general is insecureI'd restate that to say that email for general, public use is insecure. I use secure communications in my line of work, encrypting sensitive information with PGP. It's not gonna get read unless you're the intended recipient.The real concern is not that other people will read your email, but what sort of intelligence can Google glean from all that email? What if someone gets ahold of 20K random emails on Google and pulls a few credit cards? Will Google be at fault?Also, how will Google insure that the integrity or meaning of the message isn't altered in their 'ad placement' model? Not sure, but I have a feeling that the idea of contextual ads in email is not a good idea.

How could someone possibly be concerned about mail they do not pay for?

At work our employers can read our mail since they pay for it. As long as google discloses what they intend to do, and it appears they have, why should those who use the service be alarmed.

You get what you pay for. If you want secure e-mail get a paid account and sign and encrypt it. I could understand if email were unaffordable, but to get a GB of email free- come on now there has to be some trade off.

Not everything is a conspiracy.

The contextual ad problem was solved the first time around, until Google bought them out.The question is, are they going to implement it?The value will really come from the datamining, and this may just be a red herring/strategy, for them to 'concede' to activists, so the activists can say, well we got X. The amount of coorelations you can draw from good email, will vastly enhance the relationships between webpages and other sources of information. And you'll get it all for free, and it will all be proprietary, even under the law. Becuase nobody should be reading other people's email, except the people who pay for the machines... which is the caveat employers got when they discovered how much control they lost to the mail/phone networks, and moved to prevent in email.-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

> Becuase nobody should be reading other people's email, except the people who pay for the machines...Ah.....I disagree slightly.In a corporate environment, they own your email. It's their property.In cases of internet service providers, they do not have the right to read my email, if I pay for the service.But, in the case of free email, I am paying for the mail by seeing ads. Do they have a right to read the mail, and then give me contextual ads?Let's draw a parallel. If network TV wanted to have an Ad-Chip in every TV to track what you watched, then serve you ads, and still use the information for other purposes (junk mail, etc.), people would riot in the streets. Google appears to be entering this area.Max Headroom is just around the corner.

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