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Google Patents "Scroogling"

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the check-out-these-offers dept.

Google 135

theodp writes "In Microsoft's eyes, the idea of scanning Gmail so advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety, deserves no kudos. The USPTO, on the other hand, feels it deserves a patent. GeekWire reports that Google has been awarded a patent on "Scroogling", aka its system and method for targeting information based on message content in a reply. Google takes some jabs at Microsoft in the diagrams accompanying the patent, including one implying that MS-Access and Excel files pose security risks, and another that suggests alternatives to Access."

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I miss Scroogle :( (4, Informative)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year ago | (#44703659)

I miss Scroogle, even if the guy behind it was a little crazy. Hell, I'm a little crazy! Startpage just isn't the same (although, I generally use DuckDuckGo, and I encourage everyone to do so).

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (5, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#44703699)

Both Google and the USPTO are officially insane. Can anyone see where the patent wildly crosses the the line? Whilst the GMail user has agreed to have the privacy reamed the other person or persons at the end of the email or those who replay to a GMail address have not, thus an extreme invasion of privacy. This would be akin to the patents office granting the US postal service a patent for the ability to scan and read al mail that passes through it's service on the claim that buying a stamp means you agreed to all the terms and conditions of service of the US postal service.

There is always another party to that email, so at which point does the sender own the rights to privacy and at which point does the receiver take over that right or can it be legally implied that both own the right to that privacy and both must agreed to have it reamed prior to any company being allowed to do it.

Especially consider this on the reply, fuck Google, just because I send an email to a GMail address does absolutely not mean, I gave them the right to have my privacy reamed by the to their greedy and perverted little heart's content.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (5, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44703717)

Patents are, and should be, about technical issues only, legality and ethics does not enter into the decision over whether something is patentable.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | about a year ago | (#44703821)

Patents are, and should be, about technical issues only

Well, I'd have to say this fails on those merits as well. I fail to see how "show an advertisement based on message content" is either inventive or non-obvious to an expert in the field.

Oh, but they have a "computing device" and a "cloud". APPROVED.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44704487)

I fail to see how "show an advertisement based on message content" is either inventive or non-obvious to an expert in the field.

Apparently you've not studied quantum mechanics. Some interpretation of quantum mechanics state that everything that can happen does. So, much like we have the EM field and Higgs field, etc. and interactions between them make up reality, there is an infinite number of Universes that could have emerged from the big bang with all sorts of different parameters for all sorts of fields. It's widely known that the standard model is a very good approximation, but still a bit incomplete.

Much like there are effects that are visible in the quantum level but not so much at the macro scale, there are other effects that could be near impossible to detect through quantum physics, and rely on macroscopic observations. We're witnessing such an effect. It's widely known that some particles interact only very weakly with the other fields. You and I are like neutrinos, but many experts -- especially those of the PTO -- are highly influenced by the reality distortion field.

Re: I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704597)

You must be new to Software Patents if you believe that.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704933)

I fail to see how "show an advertisement based on message content" is either inventive or non-obvious to an expert in the field.

And who said that they patented exactly that?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (3, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44703911)

Things are looking up for my Automated Prisoner to Burger Converter.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704007)

I really truly hate people like you with a passion. You are fundamentally amoral and probably a borderline psycopath if that sentence even remotely reflects what goes on inside that brain-analog you carry around.

All decisions made by human beings should incorporate ethics and quite a lot of them should include legality. The belief that we can, somehow, do away with our moral and ethical obligations to people around us is what causes the kind of machine society we currently live in. It is a very popular belief among technically minded people, especially people who work with programming, systems administration etc. because we've grown up with being "the smart kid" and this has taught us that we are better at everything that matters than the other cattle.

I take what solace I can in that you are incapable of feeling genuine compassion for other people. What you feel, if you do feel, is an washed out copy of an emotion because it is limited to your own narrow in-group.

You are wrong. About everything.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year ago | (#44704101)

bullshit, legal decisions like this, as much as I despise them, should be about law and not ethics. Your personal code of conduct and morality is not MY personal code of conduct and morality. The same goes with a patent clerk and someone applying for a patent. The moral issue should be taken up by the people effected and seek damages from the offending party. Or, you could just refuse to use google services.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704209)

How about a society where people don't get affected so they don't have to seek damages?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704227)

My personal code of conduct is not Stalin's personal code of conduct. I am right, he was wrong. So are you. Only mentally deranged people are moral relativists. That or libertarians but I repeat myself.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44704867)

I suppose it's easy to divide everything into black and white when you (in all likelihood, given your hilarious outlook) get your ethics/morality given to you in a book. If morality isn't relative, that means that there are billions of people out there who constantly do things that are against their moral compass. When you get down to it, morality is a concept that humanity has created, and it means whatever we choose it to mean. Sometimes we go with the group consensus, but often it's a personal thing. What the guy said before about patents being technical, was absolutely valid and sensible. If we blocked the patenting of ideas, or the development of products, because someone (let's say the Amish) might be offended, then we'd never get anywhere.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44704241)

"...about law and not ethics..."

The law is a compromise between ethics and the interests of the powerful.

so, is Google's CFO the Chief Ferengi Officer? (3, Interesting)

Fubari (196373) | about a year ago | (#44704069)

True... both google & patent office are amoral if anything, but certainly not insane - this will be quite profitable for google.
From a non-patent point of view, this email thing seriously creeps me out.
I wonder if the Google CFO's business card says "Chief Ferengi Officer".
*shrug* That is probably true for any large company.

So anyway... now that lavabit is gone, what is a good way to go for private email ?

Patents are, and should be, about technical issues only, legality and ethics does not enter into the decision over whether something is patentable.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#44704191)

Patents are, and should be, about technical issues only, legality and ethics does not enter into the decision over whether something is patentable.

Ethics possibly not, but a patent has to be for a useful invention, and if what the patent enables me to do was illegal, then I could never legally do it, so the invention wouldn't be useful and couldn't be patented.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704569)

I now have a patent on extracting money from people and banks by pointing guns at them.

The method is illegal in many jurisdictions, and I plan on obeying the law here.

But I will extract my licencing fees from all other robbers. First those who got caught, they are easy to find. Then I'll be able to pay my enforcers to collect from the rest . . .

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705091)

So should someone be able to patent "a harness that restrains and silences a child and holds them in a position to facilitate rape by an adult"? Complete with illustrative diagrams? I wonder what patent law in most countries would say about such a thing. I expect most patent law has exclusions for inventions that are solely or primarily for criminal activity.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44703733)

Both Google and the USPTO are officially insane. Can anyone see where the patent wildly crosses the the line? Whilst the GMail user has agreed to have the privacy reamed the other person or persons at the end of the email or those who replay to a GMail address have not, thus an extreme invasion of privacy. This would be akin to the patents office granting the US postal service a patent for the ability to scan and read al mail that passes through it's service on the claim that buying a stamp means you agreed to all the terms and conditions of service of the US postal service.

There is always another party to that email, so at which point does the sender own the rights to privacy and at which point does the receiver take over that right or can it be legally implied that both own the right to that privacy and both must agreed to have it reamed prior to any company being allowed to do it.

Especially consider this on the reply, fuck Google, just because I send an email to a GMail address does absolutely not mean, I gave them the right to have my privacy reamed by the to their greedy and perverted little heart's content.

Technically, email is like sending postcards - it's complete;y open for anyone to read. (Although few do because who has the time to really read every single postcard sent through the mail? The NSA, perhaps).

Email has no technical privacy - it never has. Even in the beginning it was typically available to anyone who had access to the system it's on (back when people logged onto a shell account to retrieve their mail, sysadmins would have free reign over the entire firesystem).

If you wanted privacy, use encryption - it's one of the initial uses of PGP - for encrypting email!

And you're technically correct - in fact there's a class action over this by non-Google users finding that they're being profiled and tracked because they interact with GMail users and even worse, they aren't covered by any of Google's privacy policies because they never agreed to them.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (4, Funny)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year ago | (#44703791)

If you wanted privacy, use encryption - it's one of the initial uses of PGP - for encrypting email!

Heh, if only the gubmint would let anyone open an unmolested secure email service.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

21mhz (443080) | about a year ago | (#44704285)

That's funny, but PGP was designed with the assumption that communications and email storage can easily be snooped on. It's an end-to-end scheme, and so is S/MIME. The security of both is as good as the encryption algorithm and your and your peers' procedures for key management and exchange.

If a government (to me, the U.S. government agencies are agents of a foreign state) wants the contents, they need to go after you, rather than installing blanket wiretaps at your service providers and silencing their staff with a secret gag order.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about a year ago | (#44705469)

The recipient and sender addresses are still publicly readable, though. Sure, they could just tap the internet line itself, but it is more fun to thug it up and threaten people. Then they install logging software onto the servers themselves gives them a nice easy way to build massive graphs of who is talking to whom. Furthermore, they can log all the encrypted emails and, if they ever suspect some individual person, attempt to hack into the persons computers to get their public/private keys. Also, they probably log IP addresses too, to help physically identify individuals. There is quite a bit they can do without reading the contents of the emails.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#44704203)

Technically, email is like sending postcards - it's complete;y open for anyone to read. (Although few do because who has the time to really read every single postcard sent through the mail? The NSA, perhaps).

A postcard isn't open for anyone to read. It's only open to read for the very few people who touch it while in transit from the sender to me. And I'm quite sure there is some amount of legal protection. If you stood in front of my house waiting for the postman and asked him to let you read postcards to me, I'm quite sure that would be illegal.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704941)

Yet Google, in this case, is the postman.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44705013)

How is that different for email. None anyone can read your email, just people with access to your connection/servers.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44704253)

Does this also include Gmail users who also use other email addresses as well? Am I still bound to the TOS if I use a non-Gmail address to email a Gmail user?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704303)

Recipient can freely show your mail to anyone else - unless he's your doctor/lawyer/other with contractual obligation to keep your conversations private. You generally have no say about his use of it.

If he wants to show it to Google per his contract with GMail - he can, and your only recourse is to tell him to stop using GMail.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704319)

Technically, a conversation you have with someone on a subway is completely open. Anyone could listen along.

This does not, however, give anyone the right to record these conversations and store and process them, on any scale.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704369)

This is a pretty general statement, y'know, and generally false.

This does not, however, give anyone the right to record these conversations and store

In most legislations you do, so you're wrong here.

and process them

Depending on legislation, what kind of processing and what kind of use, you might or might not. Non-commercial use is usually ok, so when you behave like a dick in public and get published on YouTube - your attempts to sue will most likely fail (attempts to peacefully talk to YouTube support and/or user might succeed, though)

HTH, HAND, get educated.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704991)

Hint: on a large scale it is called stalking.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704357)

I think this with system admins is misunderstood. I know few of them and their research work on filters etc that they used to find juicy mails in the pile of business related garbage.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704517)

I disagree. While I also understand how e-mail works, I think that to a non-technical end user, the expectation of e-mail, or any digital communication, carries the same expectation of privacy as a phone call. Meaning, if you don't have a warrant, you can't snoop on the communications. Anything else is illegal. If people had no expectation of privacy then people wouldn't trust it nor use it. If encryption needs to be heavily employed in every step of the process then so be it.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

donaldm (919619) | about a year ago | (#44704845)

Email has no technical privacy - it never has. Even in the beginning it was typically available to anyone who had access to the system it's on (back when people logged onto a shell account to retrieve their mail, sysadmins would have free reign over the entire firesystem).

System Admins still have full access to all file-systems under their control so you have to hope that they have enough integrity not to abuse their privilege. it is possible for a rogue System Admin to write filters to extract compromising email however if they are caught doing this then they can face a prison sentence and/or a hefty fine.

Actually pretty much all outgoing and incoming business or corporate email is actually read by virus protection software no matter if the mail server runs a Microsoft, Unix or Linux OS. The exception would be pass through mail although some companies like their virus protection software to vet this as well which can actually land the over enthusiastic company in hot water since this can be construed as reading and possibly blocking mail not destined for the said companies mail server(s).

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44705113)

Email has no technical privacy - it never has. Even in the beginning it was typically available to anyone who had access to the system it's on (back when people logged onto a shell account to retrieve their mail, sysadmins would have free reign over the entire firesystem).

Back when people typically logged onto a shell account to retrieve their mail, sysadmins didn't even have to go to their homedir to snoop on them, because users had their own mbox file in the spool dir.

However, they didn't have free reign over the filesystem. They either had free rein across it, or they reigned over it. HTH.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | about a year ago | (#44703771)

You may not realize this, but Microsoft does the same still, but to a lesser extent because their contextual ad scanning failed. So now they just do contextual ads based on subject.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703787)

In that case, Fuck you for your ignorance. If you want privacy then send a letter via the post office, you fucking twit. Your emails pass through so many servers unencrypted that only a fuck wit would criticize Google of privacy concerns by scanning their email.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703813)

Are you dumb? We think so.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704175)

Actually, the post office stores OCRed sender and receiver information. It's called a 'mail cover', and since 2001 it's stored for every letter indefinitely.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703795)

Both Google and the USPTO are officially insane.

Especially given the prior art [slashdot.org] (Patent 20070157227 [uspto.gov] , February 2006, Microsoft).

captcha: chafing

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44703849)

Out of curiosity, what is your position on the non-advertising content suggestions mentioned in the patent? For example, if someone e-mails an address to a Gmail user, does it constitute reaming of the sender's privacy for Google's systems to recognize that it's an address and to offer the user a map?

What about other sorts of automated analysis not mentioned in the patent? For example, content analysis for automatic classification, such as the priority inbox feature which sorts e-mail into "important" and "everything else" categories, or the new inbox that optionally sorts e-mail into "primary", "social", "promotions", "updates" and "forums" categories, presented on different tabs. Is that reaming of the sender's privacy, too? The content analysis seems like it would be quite similar in procedure, just a different application. Probably a bit more personalized than the advertising analysis, actually.

While I'm at it, what about automated content analysis for spam filtering and virus detection? Is that also privacy reaming?

I'm curious where you draw the line, and on what basis. Personally, I don't see any sort of automated analysis whose results are presented only to the recipient of the e-mail as a breach of privacy of the sender, who sent the information to the recipient. I draw the line based on who sees the information, both original and the results of the analysis, and especially on what information made available to third parties can be tied to the people/accounts from which it originated or to which it is related. On that basis, I don't see any privacy issues with Gmail.

But others see things differently, so I'd like to understand what your criteria are.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, though the above represents only my personal opinion, not any sort of company policy statement. For that matter, I held the same opinion before I began working for Google, so I can safely say that my employment has not altered it.)

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703935)

when they analyze your data so that they can sell you to advertisers, remember with google you are their product! their method is to build a profile of you based on your communications that they can sell to advertisers and target you for advertising, this is not simply some filtering system like a spam filter, it is a system to catalog every bit of information about you to be able to understand who you are, what you do, where you go, what interests you have and who you communicate with so they can sell you for more effective advertising.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44703969)

when they analyze your data so that they can sell you to advertisers

I think the wording of this statement is misleading. It implies that some information about you is being sent to advertisers, which is not the case.

their method is to build a profile of you based on your communications that they can sell to advertisers

And again, this is not the case. Google doesn't sell user profiles to advertisers.

this is not simply some filtering system like a spam filter, it is a system to catalog every bit of information about you to be able to understand who you are, what you do, where you go, what interests you have and who you communicate with so they can show you more effective advertising.

I changed the bolded words in your statement, to make it more accurate. Yes, Google's intent is to understand you in some depth, in order to both provide you with better services, and to show you advertising that is relevant to your interests.

Of course, if you don't want targeted advertising from Google, you're free to opt out [google.com] , even while still receiving the free services.

Does this corrected understanding of what Google does and doesn't do change anything for you? Based on the line that I described in my previous post (GP to this one), it makes all the difference to me. If that's not where you draw the line, I pose the same question to you that I posed to rtb61: Where do you draw the line? Is analysis for the purpose of targeted advertising different from analysis for spam filtering or automatic categorization, and, if so, why? Is it just a distaste for advertising driving your attitude, or is there actually some privacy consideration that I'm missing?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44703997)

Oh, one more comment: I should also mention in the interest of full disclosure that I find targeted advertising to be a good thing. I don't particularly like ads, and I'd rather not see them at all, but given that advertising is the model that pays for pretty much all of the web content I enjoy, since I have to see ads I'd much rather see ads about things that actually interest me.

This was driven home a couple of days ago when I was semi-forced to watch TV for a few hours, during the afternoon. One particular sequence of commercials contained (1) an ad for a legal firm specializing in getting social security disability benefits for people, (2) an ad for catheters, with women gushing about how compact and easy to carry and insert they were and (3) an ad for some medication for some gynecological disorder, prompted me to turn to my colleague who was sitting nearby and point out that I really like targeted advertising. That sequence was just the final straw, too, after many other ads that I found not just uninteresting but distasteful.

Show me ads for hiking shoes, bicycle gear, boats, guns, gadgets, etc. -- stuff that I might actually want to know about and may even want to buy, thank you very much.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (4, Insightful)

jimshatt (1002452) | about a year ago | (#44704381)

Okay, so you like interest-based ads. I can see that, I really can. What I'm afraid of, though, is that you with your interest and I with mine get presented a different internet. Google probably sorts your search results differently than mine, so you'll visit different sites than I do, even though our search terms are the same.
Maybe this isn't a big deal. Your perception of the world is different than mine, so why wouldn't you visit a different internet than I do? But where do you draw the line? (right back at ya :) )
Also, my interests are shaped based on what I see and read on the internet (as well as IRL of course), but if only pages/search results based on my current interests are ever presented, can I ever widen my horizon? I'm not a static set of properties.

Okay, so it probably isn't this bad yet, but I'm a little worried about where this is going.
Thanks in any case for your view on this.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704439)

I find targeted advertising to be a good thing.

Cool. I am an advertising bot and I want to know EVERYTHING about you. Its like.. I wanna be your best buddy. Hows that? I want to know who you talk to what you talk about .. and just you know.. follow you around and record your entire life.

Jesus.. you work for a slimy advertising company that clogs up the internet with their shitty unwanted ads .. steals my CPU time by running heavy advertising javascript nonsense on my PC and then you want people to agree with you?

How about you just say sorry and go away?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#44704213)

I think the wording of this statement is misleading. It implies that some information about you is being sent to advertisers, which is not the case.

But it is the case. The information is "this address passed the criteria for emails that you asked us for".

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704969)

Yes... Which are male, single, under 30 interested in cars.
Please note, that private information is only the information that can personally identify you. Unless you happen to live in a country/city that has you are the only person fitting that profile, you have no basis to claim that your private information is sold.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704317)

I think the wording of this statement is misleading. It implies that some information about you is being sent to advertisers, which is not the case.

I'm not sure that is quite so clear cut as you think. Google offers programmatic and dashboard access for advertisers to look quite specifically into the targeting data before buying, it is quite doable (and being done) for advertisers to use this in combination of other techniques to indeed transfer very specific Google tracking data to themselves. For specific target groups the accuracy (low volume of people in a given category you are looking for) can be quite scary, but not quite individual - until you combine with other tricks and sources. Big data advertising targeting is much more sophisticated (and scary if you worry about tracking) than most people here seem to realize, probably because it is outside field of interest to look into for most geeks.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704985)

In short - Google offers no more information than you can't already gather from other sources, concerning low volume demographics.
Consider that you are targeting a DnD players in Boulder(CO), going through Google is the least efficient tools that you could use to get personal details about your target group.
Targeting any group larger than that is pretty much useless and you can't practically gather any valuable personal information.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#44704215)

As one of the probably-millions of people who buys google advertising, I'd love to know where I can find this supposed trove of personal profiles to target. It'd make my adwords a lot more effective than all this blind keyword bidding.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703983)

Noticing the format of a data type, or seeing an email is from somebody you have sent and recived a lot of emails to/from, is a lot different to reading each email for subjects, topics, opionions so you can improve your marketing campaigns to that person.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704995)

Actually that information will help greatly in sorting the emails. Some people I'm in contact with routinely send me stupid email and happen to be business associates. I do not want to go through their cupcake bake-off blabber, to see that they have sent me estimates for projects.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704031)

Personally, I don't see any sort of automated analysis whose results are presented only to the recipient of the e-mail as a breach of privacy of the sender, who sent the information to the recipient

Jesus wept. You display, at once, the naiveté of marketing and the ruthlessness of HR. You need your moral compass checked if you don't see a problem here. Further, you need to pay better attention if you think that this information is "presented only to the recipient".

I used to love Google. They were the cool tech company who "got it". If working there makes you into the kind of person who would write what you just wrote, it clearly has fallen quite a bit both in competence and moral capacity.

The amount of instances where Google is being clearly evil have finally reached a tipping point even for me. And I was anticipating the Glass release too but no more.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704473)

. I draw the line based on who sees the information,

Wow. .. so if nobody at the NSA sees your information. I suppose you must LOVE what the NSA is doing because.. hey.. nobody is seeing that information.

Your entire company is built around incentivizing employees to come up with new ways to extract peoples personal data without their consent. (hiding behind some terms of services which you know nobody besides lawyers can read or understand... and forcing people to opt-out rather than asking for their permission and opt-in)
You google people are disgusting.. Actually let me make it even broader, because I don't want to pick only on google. All advertising people are slimy and disgusting.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44704999)

NSA provides no services. You can't sue NSA and they pretend that it does not even exist!

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#44704903)

I don't see any sort of automated analysis whose results are presented only to the recipient of the e-mail as a breach of privacy of the sender, who sent the information to the recipient.

But the information is also shared with the NSA and law enforcement agencies. We know that already. It could (and likely will) be used for proactive punishment of thought crimes.

Moreover, what you call "content analysis" is also a technical term from the intersection of corpus linguistics and psychology. Just by analysing text you can obtain a complete and fairly accurate personality profile of a person. Try out for example LIWC [liwc.net] and see for yourself.

It's not harmless technology by any measure, it's a pretty big deal.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704043)

If your definition of "read" includes "being processed by a computer" then any email server that accepts an email from you must necessarily read your email. If your definition of "read" does not include "being processed by a computer", then Google is in fact not reading your email. Either way, you are completely misunderstanding what this story is about and what the privacy implications are.

In other words: name even a single way in which your privacy is being violated by there being relevant ads in your GMail or in someone else's GMail? The Google data center that decided which ad to show you already has your email, so Google is not getting any additional information from you when it selects or shows this ad to you. Advertisers don't get to see your email and they don't get to know who you are, so there is no information being leaked about you to third parties.

You might not like Google having your email in the first place when you send email to someone on GMail, but that is how email works. If you send an email to a server, that server has your email. That's what email is! In any case, since you aren't being shown ads when yous end email to GMail users, that concern would have absolutely nothing to do with being shown ads on GMail, which is what this Slashdot story is about.

What the hell is the problem?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704455)

In other words: name even a single way in which your privacy is being violated

Google is creating a file that contains detailed personal information about me, my relationships, my habits and everything else they can capture. It is the definition of violation of privacy. You google shills are nauseating..

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about a year ago | (#44705009)

Well... If you signed up for GMail, then why are you complaining? Google is not hiding their services in any way, if you want it you can sidestep Google.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705725)

Well... If you signed up for GMail, then why are you complaining? Google is not hiding their services in any way, if you want it you can sidestep Google.

Same reason people hate microsoft and are forced to use their products. I don't see google cheerleaders like you telling them to quit their jobs and only work at places which run on linux/openoffice?

You cant expect average people to avoid sending email to gmail users, avoid visiting websites which show googles ads, avoid youtube, avoid seeing pictures on picasa that your family sends you and a host of other activities through which google spies on you.

Just like you could not expect average people in 1999 (or whenever) to go to netscape.com and click download. Anyone could have said that right? Your PC doesn't have netscape? Why dont just go and download it? I didn't see you cheerleaders tell people that.

Barriers to entry are very real and network effects have made google a monopoly on the web. google even manages to sneak in their products via scummy practices like bundling their crap toolbar with other products. You cannot use the web without some traffic or the other inadvertently passing through googles servers (which they promptly use to mine and create your profile). The only way is to avoid them is to avoid the web completely and do something extreme like what stallman does.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44704059)

Whilst the GMail user has agreed to have the privacy reamed the other person or persons at the end of the email or those who replay to a GMail address have not, thus an extreme invasion of privacy.

If you send an email to gmail.com, gmail.com can read it. Is this really a big surprise in a technical forum? In fact, gmail.com must be able to read the email in order to deliver it to the right mailbox. It must be able to read the body of the email if you want it to perform spam detection. It's the same for pretty much every domain, as almost everyone uses some form of spam detection.

Only the naive or the wilfully ignorant could claim that they didn't expect Google to be able to read emails sent to their servers (or Microsoft/Hotmail, Yahoo, etc)

so at which point does the sender own the rights to privacy

Until they voluntarily transmit it onto another computer system.

Especially consider this on the reply, fuck Google, just because I send an email to a GMail address does absolutely not mean, I gave them the right to have my privacy reamed by the to their greedy and perverted little heart's content.

Yes, yes it does. If you don't sending your emails to Google, don't send your emails to Google. If you want to use their services (including communicating with their account holders), you abide by their conditions.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#44704379)

Listen up and listen up good. There are plenty of things I do that I prefer not to do and screw you if you think I just have to suck it up with out doing what ever I can do to change it and if I bloody wish, spend the rest of my life continuing to attempt to change it. I'll send email to a GMail address but make not mistake I will spend the rest of my life opposing the idea that they are entitled to read and analyse anything beyond the addressing. Personally I would like to see a new email encryption standard, one that is the global default and that absolutely anyone can decrypt with a simple press of a button. The only proviso being, that only the intended recipient is by law entitled to press that button and decipher the content, if anybody else does so they have committed a computer crime and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (maybe add a warning in when they press the decipher button, so two button presses ;P).

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704425)

Useless, as long as recipient is allowed to show letters to someone else, just like it's allowed now and is veeeeeery unlikely to change in the future.

It works this way even today: GMail is not reading your (sender's) mail without your permission - recipient willingly shows them his mail, as he could show it to his secretary, his wife or a random stranger in the street.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44705153)

Listen up and listen up good. There are plenty of things I do that I prefer not to do and screw you if you think I just have to suck it up with out doing what ever I can do to change it and if I bloody wish, spend the rest of my life continuing to attempt to change it.

Yep. You give those windmills what for, Quixote.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#44705963)

And you just learn to suck it on up h**%#r. To each their own, I know which I rather be.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

Antonovich (1354565) | about a year ago | (#44704139)

Get over it dude. If people, other than privacy nerds, were remotely concerned about this then we'd get Yahoo/MS/etc. promoting some sort of auto-reply system that sent back a "Sorry, the email service you have sent this email from scans replies for advertising purposes and, as such, is a danger to my privacy. Please send this email from an email service that does not scan my emails and I will reply to your message". Almost all email services, free or not, probably provide for this very easily. Then Gmail would then be faced with some hard choices... or maybe they wouldn't because no one cares. That's the problem here - almost no one who is not on /. cares. What is stopping you from doing this again and starting the movement?

NOTHING is forcing you to use Gmail, either to send from or to. There are literally thousands of free email providers and it is NOTHING like the postal service in that way.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704163)

That's the problem here - almost no one who is not on /. cares.

I'll say even more - almost no one cares on /. too. There's just a bit higher concentration of privacy-minded people here than elsewhere.

What is stopping you from doing this again and starting the movement?

The fact that unless you're a pretty important person, you'll just be regarded as a nut and nobody will go through the hoops of finding an email provider that satisfies you?

Or the fact that all US-based, as well as many foreign email providers should be treated as snooped by NSA/FSB/GCHQ/whichever (which is a bit higher privacy concern than "OMG they're gonna target ads at me!"), so to be consistent you'd better require everyone get a TSL supporting mail VPS - otherwise it'd be just more of same shit?

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Deviate_X (578495) | about a year ago | (#44704821)

... would be akin to the patents office granting the US postal service a patent for the ability to scan and read al mail that passes through it's service on the claim that buying a stamp means you agreed to all the terms and conditions of service of the US postal service.

This is actually a solid business idea, extending what Google does with email to Snail mail. Just think about how much this could improve targeted mail (junk mail) by sharing keywords in your mail with advertisers. All that would be needed is technology to scan through paper envelopes.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#44705039)

what does a single word of what you say have any relevance to this article?

not fuck google, fuck you man. that effortpost troll was way slow.

Maybe you should look into what Microsoft does with your privacy and/or has done with scroogling, because both are ridiculous.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#44705177)

Patents have nothing to do with morality or otherwise. Personally I would rather Google have this patent, then say, some patent troll company that will sell the patent to the highest bidder, say, some Chinese state run company.

Also I can't stand how much FUD is said about Gmail and its lack of "privacy". No HUMAN has ever read your email, ever, it doesn't happen. Google uses cold impersonal computers and algorithms to quickly scan text for keywords and then suggests ads that are relevant because they have found that if you are emailing a buddy about a new car, you might be more interested in ads about cars rather than ads about viagra.

Everybody knows the deal with Gmail, and anybody who responds to a Gmail user knows the deal. People do not have to respond to any email they don't want to.

Also to assume that no other online service is scanning your emails is juvenile and naive, and their motives are far more an affront to privacy than simply deciding what ad to display as you enjoy a free service. If you want to be private, get off the fucking web!

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44705455)

There is always another party to that email, so at which point does the sender own the rights to privacy and at which point does the receiver take over that right

Sadly, we live in a world where implicit/click-through EULAs have been upheld in court.

Which means there's likely a clause which says "by using this service (which includes sending to our users) ..."

This will be true of pretty much any organization ... once the email hits their servers, they own that copy of it. Hell, if you sent me email at work, my company owns those servers and you have no expectation of privacy as well -- because like every company, they basically say they retain the right to access emails.

The problem isn't with Google (though I'm not defending them), it's with privacy laws. As long as governments decide that business models are corporate profits trump privacy, and the expectation is people want to monetize you, then there will always be be this kind of thing.

just because I send an email to a GMail address does absolutely not mean, I gave them the right to have my privacy reamed

Except, from a strictly legal perspective, you have, even if you didn't explicitly say so -- once again, that's EULAs.

And, I can guarantee you, Yahoo, Microsoft, and lots of other entities do this.

The only way you are ever going to have 100% privacy in email is if you own and host your own server, and everything is sent encrypted. And even then, if the government themselves wanted to know, they could compel you.

So what needs to happen is improvements to privacy laws. And quite frankly, I don't see a lot of governments giving a damn about that, because they're more worried about surveillance. And if they're exploiting the fact that Google can look at your email to do advertising (which they are), they can also use that to see the contents of your email if they wish.

Seriously, blame your lawmakers -- they are the ones who set this scenario up and passed the laws that allow this to happen (or failed to pass laws that prevent it).

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705719)

Just because I send a message to THEIR server, doesn't mean I expect they might not scan the contents in an automated way. Clearly it is a violation of my rights that they virus scan my e-mails and try to remove SPAM and possibly even add it to a database for that purpose. Who are they to work on a file I sent to their server in a manner that is clearly indicated on their terms of service which I could see before sending a message to their servers. Oh so evil...

Delivering e-mail for "free" isn't a right. If you are concerned about things like this, use encryption to protect yourself and make sure those you correspond with no to do the same. Don't trust a public, unencrypted network to do it for you. That's just silly and even impractical.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44704077)

Meh I use Bing, I figure if somebody is gonna make money off my searches the least they can do is give me a slice and all those $5 Amazon gift cards are great for picking up the little adapters and odds and ends i'm always needing round the shop. Plus I like their image search better than Google.

As for TFA this just shows that the USPTO has basically become a rubber stamp for the corps, frankly the whole copyrights and patents system need to be tossed out and overhauled, all it does now is make rich old white guys ever richer while making minefields for everybody else.

Re:I miss Scroogle :( (1)

Windwraith (932426) | about a year ago | (#44704671)

Unfortunately DDG's results are pretty terrible. I find it pretty much unusable, specially because it tends to turn your search for a software package with a "common" name, to only turn out results from the common name (IE try to look for Lua and you get sites that use the Portuguese word for moon), whereas google will usually link to Lua's official site.

The pages referenced in the summary (4, Informative)

loosescrews (1916996) | about a year ago | (#44703687)

The one implying that MS-Access and Excel files pose security risks: http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/23/218/085/18.pdf [uspto.gov]

The one that suggests alternatives to Access: http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/23/218/085/19.pdf [uspto.gov]

Re:The pages referenced in the summary (2)

jerquiaga (859470) | about a year ago | (#44703839)

Those show nothing of the sort. Wish someone would actually read the materials before writing the summary.

Re:The pages referenced in the summary (2)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44703887)

Those show nothing of the sort. Wish someone would actually read the materials before writing the summary.

Well, the second image does show ads for Filemaker and Peoplesoft, sandwiched between ads for help with learning or using Access. The Filemaker ad specifically positions it as an alternative to Access, and it can be assumed that the Peoplesoft ad is also offering an alternative, though I don't really see Access and Peoplesoft as competitors.

The first image is an example e-mail that actually suggests that Excel and Access files are so valuable to the business that they should be protected from loss by getting them backed up to a network drive, with no implication that the files pose security risks, so the summary's characterization of that is completely off-base.

Re:The pages referenced in the summary (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year ago | (#44703877)

Thank you. Don't see anything about security risks in the first link. Both links advertise MS Access, which is a joke by itself.

Still giving out bad patents, I see. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year ago | (#44703691)

There's nothing novel about this, it's already been done for a long time in various ways. It's just another "do something common and obvious...in email!" patent.

Re:Still giving out bad patents, I see. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#44703719)

Do Evil ... On A Computer.

Re:Still giving out bad patents, I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704081)

Man, you must know all about patents! I bet you read the details of it and actually have an understanding of the current situation! Yay!

uh-oh (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44703727)

sounds like Microsoft just got scroogled.

Re:uh-oh (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about a year ago | (#44704117)

Who wants to patent Microsucks?

Patent novelty? (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year ago | (#44703737)

How is this remotely patentable? It is just taking some content, and presenting an ad based on the content (and keywords in the content). What does it mater that the content is a reply vs a web page vs anything else?
Ohhh "determining reply content associated with the reply" If only three was some standard way to determine the content of an email. What is novel about this? Once you have a system to provide an ad based on keywords, what does it matter if you pull keywords from a reply, or from something else?

Re:Patent novelty? (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44703833)

This comes up every time a patent gets mentioned on Slashdot. They did not patent the concept of targeting ads based on content. They patented a particular method for doing that.

Re:Patent novelty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705223)

This comes up every time a patent gets mentioned on Slashdot. They did not patent the concept of targeting ads based on content. They patented a particular method for doing that.

And this comes up every time too. Funny how, as usual. the "particular method" is just one instance of the obvious general method, all obvious to somebody in the field, that the the PTO claims is somehow new and novel because it is a particular instance. Their children's logic is getting very tiresome. I suspect that is one of the reasons why many programmers detest the PTO; the logical ability of most programmers is far superior to most PTO employees as you can't use bullshit logic when writing a program, unlike most PTO patent examinations.

Re:Patent novelty? (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year ago | (#44705429)

They did not patent the concept of targeting ads based on content. They patented a particular method for doing that.

And their particular method is different from the other methods how? Reading the patent, about the only thing that is different is that they use the reply as the content.
The method involves using keywords from the content. Applying some sort of weighting that meets a threshold, and a few other things. How does this method differ from a method to introduce advertising based on other content?
Surely figuring out the reply isn't novel. Surely looking for keywords isn't novel. Surely weighting isn't novel. There is some stuff in there related to email and databases, but the only thing that really matters is keywords and weighting and replies. I don't see how this is novel, or different than any other content based syste,

Patent on 'Scroogling'? (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | about a year ago | (#44703759)

I would have just assumed someone in the porn industry already owned that one.

I prefer Pi billion dollar spectrum bid (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#44703777)

Poking at Microsoft is always fun, but when their competitors were doing huge, high pressure deals worth billions and Google bid $3.1415 billion (pi billion) that was the best, I think.

With their reputation for April Fool's day prank launches, launching Gmail on April fool's was good too.

Re:I prefer Pi billion dollar spectrum bid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704695)

... and as long as it keeps the stupid people thinking of Google with affection it's job done.

So... (2, Insightful)

Doh! (86796) | about a year ago | (#44703783)

It has come to this.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703947)

its been like this, and what should, and, should not, be patented continues without any hope of a complete overhaul..

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703989)

Oooh the tension!

WWOT fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703837)

BSD machines, the mundane chores SOFTWARE LAWYERS the above is far raise or lower the GNAA on slashdot, FOR ALL PRACTICAL = 1400 NetBSD Ones in software Are allowed to play

I want to switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44703919)

So I've been using gmail for a long time now but I want to change that now. What are some good alternatives that respect my privacy? Preferably not based in the us.

Re:I want to switch (2)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year ago | (#44704107)

wont matter, any email you send into the US can be searched, cataloged and perused.

Google is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704125)

(along with numerous other monpolistic US corporations)

talking may violate this patent,,, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44704387)

This is a useul patent !
I will stop answering my wife's questions as I will violate this patent unless I answer with unrelated information

This is Google's bread and butter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44705343)

And if they're doing this with GMail just imagine what they're going to do with Android...

Better than the one-click (1)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#44705481)

At least one could imagine a significant potential benefit for this (even if outweighed by the negatives), and it required a bit of innovation. The one-click purchase (where you don't get a confirmation) always seemed crazy to me - like inventing an automobile without brakes so that it always has to be coasted to a stop.
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