GMail hooey

GMail hooey
: Ripclawe send me email properly outraged at this: A California state senator is drafting legislation to decree Google’s GMail “an invasion of privacy.”

As I’ve said before, “privacy” is becoming the most over-used and badly used word of the age.

GMail, like it or leave it, is an opt-in service. You get it free because it has ads. Don’t want the ads? Don’t get the service. Want the ads? Take the deal.

This is like saying that an airline needing to know where you fly to give you frequent-flier miles is an invasion of privacy.


  • Orion

    The standard reply to these concerns should be that providers already “machine-read” your email to filter out spam and viruses.

  • sol

    This politician is working for Microsoft or Yahoo or any number of other pissed off companies… Internet companies have demonstrated some of their most comical stupidity in this area of attempting to tie premium fees to storage quotas. It’s like saying there’s not enough sunlight on the beach so you have to pay more if you want more sunlight. I once found a message board company that charged a monthly fee for their board but for the minimum fee you could only make 300 posts a month (beyond that the fee increased by number of posts above 300). I kid you not. This is the result of dumb geeks trying to run businesses. You get everything nobody wants in only bad color and design choices.

  • michael

    This isn’t as simple as an “opt-out”.
    I don’t use the service, but my friend does. I e-mail my friend. That incoming message – my private communication – is now scanned and databased by Google. I did not consent to this.
    Considering the ubiquity of Google, their email service has broad implications for people other than just those that sign up for an account (or who bother to read the privacy policy).

  • sol

    Your ISP records everything you send. Yeah, this splayed information network called the internet suddenly has a ‘security hole’ for your email because google is scanning to place ads.

  • Legislation that controls what I do with my own privacy is a violation of my privacy.

  • billg

    The Internet is a public place. There’s no more privacy here than you’d have living as an exhibit in an alien zoo. (A great Twilight Zone episode, btw…)
    In any case, we ought not to be worried about companies like Google who tell us what they’re doing with our data. Jeff’s right: Don’t like it, don’t use it.
    It’s the folks that don’t tell us that ought to worry us. Do you really know what you friendly local ISP is doing with your stuff?

  • Michael you did not have to email him, you could have called and asked for an alternate or even mailed and asked for an alternate address. You know what the service is and consented by sending the message. I found it amusing that the in Declan’s Politech list that the member of the state house complaining doesn’t have a privacy policy on her website.

  • michael

    No, Thomas. Consider someone who uses e-mail, but doesn’t know (for any number of reasons) what its means to send e-mail to a Gmail account. Such a person will have her e-mail scanned without her consent or prior knowledge.

  • what on earth would i have to fear from google reading my email?
    my mistress and i use aol messenger.
    i get my weed at the bar next to the gun store.
    and any secrets i have i leave in the comments of other people’s blogs.
    since the majority of my inbox are offers to enlarge my penis, buy vicodin, or view barnyard porn, the snoops at google, if there are any, would be hard pressed to find anything of any interest in what i receive electronically.
    and if they did, i’d hope theyd be kind enough to alert me.

  • MDP

    I am in 99% agreement with Jeff Jarvis, but michael raises what seems like a valid objection.
    Technically, the recipient of email can do whatever he wants with it. Even so, it’s at least bad manners to publicize/share a message someone sends you without getting his permission. And even after all the anti-Gmail publicity, most internet users won’t know about the service’s scan policy.
    (Btw, is it bad manners for me to include a self-pimping link in this comment? If so, I’ll desist.)

  • bob

    One possible (non-legislated) response by Google would be to follow it’s handling of newsgroups.
    Google won’t store messages which contain a header (or first line) that reads, “X-No-Archive: Yes”
    So, how about something similar for Gmail? Storage would be limited for a week, at most. Or each messge would be accessible one time.
    Sure, it could be inconvenient for recipients, but that would be between them and the sender.
    Solves some privacy concerns – real and inflated – and also helps Google save a little space. Nifty.

  • Bob, I think that’s a great idea… as long as you’re willing to apply it to *ALL* e-mail. If it’s tagged with your x-no-archive thing, then it would go POOF in someone’s Eudora folder. POOF in their corporate Outlook e-mail folder. POOF in their Yahoo Mail.
    But let’s not restrict this to Outlook. I’d like to include such a tag on some blog comments. So that I could say… okay, after 7 weeks, this comment will self-destruct. And it better not be indexed in Technorati neither! ;)
    On a more serious note, you can read my detailed Gmail review here.