6.4.04

Free e-mail may put privacy at risk

Privacy campaigners are up in arms over Google's latest venture that plans to make vast e-mail space available to the masses. Gmail hopes to rival major players such as Yahoo and Hotmail and offers significantly larger storage space as well as being free from the menace of pop-up ads.

Well what's wrong with that one may ask? The answer is that there is no such thing as a freebie and what Gmail would do - albeit in automated fashion - is have mailcrawlers go through your mail and target yo with ads based on the content of your mail. Well that isn't so good. So instead of pop-ups you'll get bombarded with lots of random mails trying to flog you things based on what a computer thinks your e-mails display an interest in. Stuff privacy, one wouldn't want the annoyance of this.

BUT privacy campaigners do have a point. While individuals are not sifting through our mails the fact that a computer is remains intrusive. If we want our mails scanned or to recieve adverts for goods and services then we want the choice to sugn up for these. You do have a choice - don't sign up for Gmail if you don't like these terms.

The other privacy issue is that Google in offering users such vast server space will retain back-up capability over mails you may have long forgotten about or even deleted - not ideal. Again, this is perhaps a trade-off for the extra storage your getting. Gmail certainly seems to offer users more but this is offset by how much you as a user are willing to give and receive in return. Even if you are happy to compromise your privacy in this way, Google in having the capability to crawl through mail and store archived or deleted mails could well be in breach of both data protection and privacy laws.

More HERE and HERE

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