Is Google reading your email?

(Via Jeff:)

Barry Briggs says:

“Yeah, but…Google is reading your mail! Doesn’t this bother you? It would bother the hell out of me (even though I proudly lead a spectacularly boring life) just “on principle.” If the confidentiality of your communications is not sacred to your provider, then you have to assume that provider will do just about anything with your email in order to turn a profit. That, I think, is plenty to worry about.

Or maybe I should just get over it.”

I had a similar discussion with a friend who’s also always concerned about privacy. I think it doesn’t make much sense pointing at Google – scanning your mail for keywords is part of the deal you accept to be offered that free service. I agree the thought is a bit creepy, but then again you shouldn’t use email for anything confidential anyway (though most of us will).

And – at least you know Google does this. If you’re like most people, your mail will be stored on some ISP’s server waiting for you to pick it up. What makes you so sure they don’t read it as well (there’s no limit to what bored admins will do), or even keep copies of it for law enforcement agencies (there are laws for this in europe). Even if you run your own mail server, there’s no way to know who will have access to it in transit.

So, yes – get over it. Email is not secure. That’s old news.

11 thoughts on “Is Google reading your email?

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  3. The point is, that any provider else will not make profit out of your email and sell your address and interesting keywords to the spam industry.
    Google does.

  4. The point is, that any provider else will not make profit out of your email and sell your address and interesting keywords to the spam industry.
    Google does.

  5. I knew *you’d* catch this one ;)

    They will *not* sell your data: “Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission.” (http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html)

    And, again: any other provider may or may not do the same – Google at least have a clear and open policy to this.

    And: it’s part of the deal when you sign up. They tell you upfront.

  6. I knew *you'd* catch this one ;)

    They will *not* sell your data: "Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission." (http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html)

    And, again: any other provider may or may not do the same – Google at least have a clear and open policy to this.

    And: it's part of the deal when you sign up. They tell you upfront.

  7. If another provider would do that without a policy that the user has accepted before, it would break current law (in Germany “Fernmeldegeheimnis”).

    Yes, nobody is forced to use their service. :-)

  8. If another provider would do that without a policy that the user has accepted before, it would break current law (in Germany "Fernmeldegeheimnis").

    Yes, nobody is forced to use their service. :-)

  9. “Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission.” (http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html)

    Well, yeah. That’s today’s policy. But maybe they’ll change it. It’s their policy after all.

    Imagine a) their stock price dives and b) somebody offers ’em a coupla billion to get at the scans of your email. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, but the point is, it’s not up to you.

  10. "Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission." <a href="http://(http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html)” target=”_blank”>(http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html)

    Well, yeah. That's today's policy. But maybe they'll change it. It's their policy after all.

    Imagine a) their stock price dives and b) somebody offers 'em a coupla billion to get at the scans of your email. Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won't, but the point is, it's not up to you.

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