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fanf

Gmail and privacy

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20th Apr 2004 | 07:42

I still fail to understand the problem some people have with gmail.

(1) It's opt-in. If you don't like it, don't use it.

(2) Email is already scanned to protect users from spam and viruses. Why not scan for advertising?

(3) EU Data protection officers seem to agree.

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200404/msg00152.html

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Comments {11}

from: hsenag
date: 20th Apr 2004 01:20 (UTC)

I can't prevent emails I send being processed by them - even though I can avoid sending a message to an @gmail address, I can't know if someone is forwarding their mail to it.

I'd have no objection to scanning the message to do whatever, like inserting adverts, but presumably they are going to have to report aggregate statistics to advertisers so they can charge them - and I'm not entirely happy with that. It's a silly and contrived example, but what if someone places an advert for the keywords "Foo Bar pregnant" and waits for an upswing in the number of impressions?

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ewx

can't know if someone is forwarding their mail to it

from: ewx
date: 20th Apr 2004 01:30 (UTC)

That's true of any email service, though; the recipient could be forwarding to all sorts of things that you dislike and you might never know.

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Re: can't know if someone is forwarding their mail to it

from: hsenag
date: 20th Apr 2004 02:18 (UTC)

Agreed. That doesn't stop me from wanting to do something about the ones I do know about, though.

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from: rmc28
date: 20th Apr 2004 03:53 (UTC)

what if someone places an advert for the keywords "Foo Bar pregnant" and waits for an upswing in the number of impressions?

You mean like a company selling pregnancy/baby goods?

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from: hsenag
date: 20th Apr 2004 06:41 (UTC)

I mean like someone wanting to know if celebrity Foo Bar is pregnant. It's a crap example; but the point is that even reporting aggregate statistics of keywords from emails is an information leak.

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Just a random swede

from: vatine
date: 20th Apr 2004 01:25 (UTC)

Aye. GMail T&Cs means I'd hesitate getting an account and (possibly, but not probable) would pay attention what I send their way. Do I think it's bad they're phrased as-is? No, I think the "may be kept even beyond account termination" is a cover for "we will delete your account, but there is no automatic account-deleter-magic in place, at least for now, so the mailstore may hang around for a couple of days until one of our admins gets around to cleaning it up" (also makes it easier having everything left when the user goes "no! no wanna gmail!" and three days later says "erm, I do, actually, can I have my emails back too, please?".

I did think the phrasing was unfortunate, though.

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 20th Apr 2004 01:46 (UTC)

Um no, they're more automated than that. Read the Google Filesystem paper for an explanation of why messages and accounts are not deleted immediately.

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Just a random swede

from: vatine
date: 20th Apr 2004 11:36 (UTC)

Yes, that (however) was the impression I got when I saw that part of the T&C. The Actual Technical Reason is to my mind pretty damned irrelevant.

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from: the_aviator
date: 20th Apr 2004 10:53 (UTC)

Google == big corporation therefore 3v1L
People complained about Orkut and its T&Cs for much the same reason.

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Pete

from: pjc50
date: 20th Apr 2004 12:57 (UTC)

Of course, "don't use it" isn't much of an option if you want to correspond with someone who has a Gmail account. Google are in a great position to answer the question "which Gmail accounts has this person corresponded with?"

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from: anonymous
date: 27th Apr 2004 14:26 (UTC)

...as is any mail provider about every account it serves.

--
kat@totkat.org
http://www.totkat.org/

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