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Wednesday · April 14 2004

This morning, Michelle sent me an invite to test the new 1GB Google mail. I poked around, but I can't get much of a feel for it without correspondence. The 1GB mailbox size is the main attraction and the threaded conversation view looks like an worthwhile email interface upgrade.

If you have anything to send me in the next couple weeks, please use my first last name at, so I can give it a try.

Archived: Techie » April 2004
What you had to say:
April 14 2004

Kegz -

Have you read all of the privacy objections to this new service? They use some filtering and scanning technology to search your mail for keywords, so they can interlay ads, etc.

The thing is, there search tools are so powerful, they can find anything - private notes, passwords, confidential material, plots to overthrow the government, etc.

Caveat emptor.
"Residual copies of email may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account," Google's Gmail says in its privacy and terms of use sections.

Google will also scan users' emails in order to paste appropriate advertising into messages. It may also link together "cookies", which contain personal information, from both email and Web use records.

April 14 2004

I have read about those concerns. I'm just testing it out for now. It doesn't interlay ads right now. The ads are like Google AdSense ads you see on many sites. They are off to the side.

The thing about the privacy is that I already use Yahoo mail (and have been for about 3 years) and I don't see why this should be any different? Yahoo mail is scanning messages to filter spam for me and the msnbc article you posted states that Yahoo mail has a similar provision about the destruction of data.

Email is not secure. period. Email has never been a secure environment. I treat it that way.

I wonder if people are jumping up and down about this correlation of identity and behavior data use a Fresh Values discount card at Jewel supermarkets? Do they use frequent flyer programs? Do they surf the web or email at work? Have they ever bought something via Amazon or a catalog? Do they own a house or a car loan or have credit cards?

Or do they all live in a cave and barter chickens for trade? I'm being ridiculous, but only to make a point. We live in a world without privacy. If you really think nobody has ever had a machine scan your email, you're being very naive.

April 14 2004;jsessionid=OMHKJAPK2VFQWCRBAELCFFA?type=internetNews&storyID=4824224

Looks like Google is thinking hard about the privacy pressure. Don't think for a minute I wouldn't prefer the service without the ads and all they entail, but I'm not going to get my panties in a twist either. I'd be a fool to yell about that sort of privacy and write about my life here with no regard for who reads it.

I like the Google mail interface alot from what I've seen already this morning. It really shifts the way you view and store messages. If I could get an ad free version and several other features that aren't there yet, no question I'd be willing to pay a small fee for that.

April 14 2004

Kegz -

I hear what you're saying, and they're valid points, all of them. I think that this is to another extreme, however. The rules of the road are similar, but not the same for Yahoo vs. Gmail, but Yahoo expressly states that they are scanning keywords on inbound mail for the purposes of filtering out spam. This happens at the gateway, not after it's already in your personal account.

Google, on the other hand, utilizes much more sophisticated and robust tools for scanning email which is already "yours" - it's in your allocated server space. They will scan email you've received, and email that you send, as a way of helping you to organize all of the mail that you send/receive - for starters.

Behaviour and content are two different things. I use my frequent flyer and shopper cards by choice. If I don't want Jewel to know that I bought 3 family packs of condoms last week, I could have paid full price (i.e. not used the card) in cash. Flying is different all together, because there is the security aspect. If you want to remain anonymous, the train is an excellent, if slow, replacement. I do not equate those examples with the protection of intellectual property - personal notes/thoughts to my girlfriend, my pre-patented squirrel shaving machine design specs, or sarcastic emails that could be perceived as plots to overthrow the government, the same way.

I'm not going to assume that anyone is interested in my email, at least not enough to read about the squirrel device. But Google's tools are powerful enough that some intelligence agency could quietly ask them to scan all email for specific items, and unearth a whole host of things. I don't have anything to hide from the law, but then that is not the spirit of privacy laws. If only 1 in 100 people fights for privacy, the 1 is persecuted as having something to hide. The perception becomes "he is guilty, unless proven innocent."

Have I gone too far here? Perhaps.

Anyway, I think I'll go check it out myself.... :)

April 14 2004

I'm with you 100% on the privacy laws and the 1 in 100 thing. I just don't think this is the place to plant the flag. Unless you encrypt your email, you're essentially sending a postcard. That's true for google mail, hotmail, yahoo mail, aol mail, university mail, corporate mail that hits the Internet. All of it.

If you aren't comfortable writing on a postcard what you are emailing, don't email it.

Also, it's not "your" server space. If you want "your" server space, buy a box and bandwith and read up on how to have your own email server. If you aren't up for that and want a more convenient option, you pay for it. With ads, with your own dollars, whatever. I hardly see the difference between scanning on the way in or in your "rented" space. If privacy is the real issue, who cares where your secret love letters to Barney get scanned?

If you don't want to use google mail, don't use it. If you aren't comfortable sending messages to people with google mail, don't do it.

April 15 2004

Did we kill this thing yet?

We didn't even get to talk about the cookies planted and the location tracking....

I signed up today, by the way. Do I lose all credibility?

April 15 2004

You will when you start using it and see how efficient the conversation based interface is. You lose no credibility for trying it. You gain credibility, because you can form your opinion on experience rather than heresay.

What kills me is people who are bitching without even trying it, like Liz Figueroa, a California state senator.

"We think it's an absolute invasion of privacy. It's like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home," Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, California, said.

Oh really? Is it really like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home? Are you sure that isn't your television?

April 17 2004

I just want to point out that this is a great discussion. And I'm keeping my eye on both of you.....

Kidding aside, I am constantly surprised by people that don't realize how many things are "public record". This is a bit tangential, but still under the umbrella of, "Hey! Don't spy on me--Oh, my value card does WHAT?"
You made a point, Jason, about getting a home or car or credit cards and what information remains private and what doesn't. Your home purchase is of public record, and so are most, if not all, of your liens and mortgages, marriage/divorce/death records, tax liens, business/corporate information, court filings, bankruptcy filings, licenses, and a few other related areas. There are also databases called "personal property locator" and "People locater", which are exactly what they sound like (I'm still listed as living on Hubbard street in chicago).

I can go on a database right now, plug in your name, and see how much you paid for your home. I think you can actually do that on most newspaper websites that offer home buying guides. You'd be surprised at how many people don't know that...and don't know a host of other things that they thought were private.

the distinguishing factor is: What is being done with that information? are you tracking my purchases to better serve me, or to see if I'm building a meth lab? Are you scanning my email for advertisers and to make money on a service that you offer to me for free....or are you watching if I bad-mouth the president?

It does frighten me that the 'homeland security' and 'in the interest of national security" reasons that have been thrown around in recent years will push back the line for civil rights. So it IS important that we know our rights and where to draw these lines and that we push back. However, it's also important to do that where appropriate, and I don't know that gmail is one of those places.

April 17 2004

Read this:

Read My Mail, Please - The silly privacy fears about Google's e-mail service. By Paul Boutin

April 18 2004

Great article. thanks for finding & posting that.

April 19 2004

"Using Gmail for, well, a day now, I've come to appreciate it quite a bit. Comparing it with Hotmail is not very fair. In fact, doing so is sort of an insult to Gmail, as far as I'm concerned, because it's entirely different, and it's on the exact opposite side of the sucking scale."

April 29 2004

Hey if anyone can give me an invite to gmail that would be really cool. Thanks

April 29 2004

Hey if anyone can give me an invite to gmail that would be really cool. Thanks--

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz