: Esther Dyson gets past the hysteria over privacy — the most overused word of the age, I’d argue — with Google’s G-mail and finds benefit to what they’re doing (it’s like someone on the street seeing you staring at a map and giving you directions). If you don’t want to use G-mail, don’t. If you want to get a free service, that’s the price.

  • CW

    Well said.
    But I don’t see how Google needs to keep your e-mail messages after you’ve closed your account. That doesn’t seem to make much sense for Google.

  • bob

    Agreed on the privacy concerns, and I’m a bit of a privacy hound. After all, it’s opt-in.
    But the analogy doesn’t quite work. Maps only contain public information, which can’t be said of all e-mail. This is more like having your neighbor collect you mail, read it, and sort it out for later access. “Hey, can I see my bills for January? No junk, please.”
    If you trust him, and you trust Google, it’s a great idea. Otherwise, nevermind.

  • pb

    I can’t stand when someone suggests that if you don’t like something to not use it. Firstly, that’s not always practical ans second, the vast majority of users will not understand what they are getting themselves into.
    Google may not need to keep your mail after you close your account but it doesn’t need to delete it either. And keeping it around will benefit the users who (accidentally) close their account and want to recover it.

  • michael

    Would you be willing to have the phone company listen-in to all your phone calls and interrupt with “special offers” whenever you mention certain words?
    This is wrong.

  • Has it ever occured to anyone that having a g mail account doesn’t have to replace your present somewhat private account? It would be a great service to use when you had to send large attachments, or receive them, but the accompanying message wasn’t that personal or private. I also wanted to tell about something that happend 5 or 6 years ago. I was planning a vacation to Mexico, but then we decided to buy a business, so the trip got postponed. Shortly after that I started getting unsolicited e mail from large banks in Houston and Miami asking if I needed financing. The e mails were in Spanish. There is nothing new under the sun!!!

  • I am trying to figure out how your “privacy is so over” attitude meshes with your “the government should stay out of our private radio-listening!” attitude. And failing. I mean, if privacy is “over-rated” then why are you shrieking about Bad Daddy Ashcroft investigating the doings of Porno-Americans?

  • “Overused,” I meant to quote. I blame the drugs my pimp gave me.

  • Chas C-Q

    “If you don’t want to use G-mail, don’t.” And also, don’t correspond with someone who does. Your side of the conversation gets saved, too.