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Privacy Complaint Against Google's GMail Service

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the that-didn't-take-long dept.

Privacy 447

CRCates writes "Privacy groups in the UK have filed a complaint against Google over its new Gmail service. Privacy groups said they were concerned about Google's ability to link a user's personal details, supplied in the Gmail registration process, to Web-surfing behaviour through the use of a single cookie for its search and mail services. "

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447 comments

How can they do this? (3, Insightful)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779553)

It hasn't even been launched yet, it's in beta. I'd imagine the people in this beta have signed some kind of agreement where they say they cannot do anything if they are adversly affected by Gmail, so what's the problem? Of course it's a different matter when it's launched to the public.

Re:How can they do this? (5, Insightful)

darien (180561) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779567)

Presumably this group wants Google to get it right before it's released to the public! Which seems fair enough to me. Isn't that what being in beta is for?

Re:How can they do this? (2, Funny)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779577)

[quoteblock]It hasn't even been launched yet, it's in beta. I'd imagine the people in this beta have signed some kind of agreement where they say they cannot do anything if they are adversly affected by Gmail, so what's the problem? Of course it's a different matter when it's launched to the public.[/quoteblock]

Or more like they signed an agreement that made sure they agreed to complete and total lack of anonymity and privacy.

Re:How can they do this? (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779599)

[quoteblock 503 service unavailable.][/bad joke]

Re:How can they do this? (4, Insightful)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779743)

I'd imagine the people in this beta have signed some kind of agreement where they say they cannot do anything if they are adversly affected by Gmail, so what's the problem?

The problem is those pesky "inalienable" (or "unalienable" as one source writes it) rights: inalienable simply means that something can't be given away or sold -- alienated -- even if you want to give it away or sell it.

Just as you can't, regardless of contract, sell yourself into slavery in most countries, Google's GMail quite possibly violates European law (but not U.S. law, which protects privacy very little if at all).

So a contract is no defense, as contracts for illegal activities are unenforceable.

MOD PARENT DOWN, PINGULAR = TROLL + CRAPFLOODER (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779769)

He is a known parasite on /., please mod down!

Erase the cookie (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779554)

Erase the cookie. Don't use the service. How do you know Yahoo! doesn't read all it's mail?

Welcome to paranoia.

Not that simple (5, Insightful)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779659)

The article is very clear: privacy groups aren't just arguing that Google is violating privacy, they are arguing that Google is violating the law (by violating privacy).

It seems that European privacy law is much more strict than US law, and by retaining a subscriber's email even after they have deleted it or cancelled their account Google is breaking those laws.

Huge difference.

Re:Not that simple (4, Funny)

jaaron (551839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779740)

It seems that European privacy law is much more strict than US law, and by retaining a subscriber's email even after they have deleted it or cancelled their account Google is breaking those laws.

Cool. Looks like the rest of us won't have to compete with all the Europeans for cool gmail addresses. :)

Another option is that gmail just won't be available in Europe.

Re:Not that simple (2, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779750)

It would be interesting to see if they are simply the first people to admit this.

Do you think AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo! mail and every other ISP in the world dig through their backups when you quit and make sure they delete all copies of your mail? I'd be very, very, very surprised if they do.

Re:Erase the cookie (5, Insightful)

sgtron (35704) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779669)

Hotmail, Yahoo, GMX.. they all *read* your email.. let me explain. All these services have "anti-spam" measures in place. They scan all your email for certain terms that would identify it as spam. Now, what is Google doing differently? They also scan your email, not only for spam words, but for ad keywords. I don't see the big problem here honestly. If you don't want your email scanned for spam terms or ad words, just use a real isp and run your own anti-spam software.

mod parent up... (0, Offtopic)

caino59 (313096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779733)

worth a karma hit, as an interesting point is made.

Re:Erase the cookie (1)

sketerpot (454020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779793)

Plaus, it isn't really hard for any ISP to read people's email. I saw one ISP that had a little window open on one computer showing all the emails being sent and recieved. It was striking how many of the emails had the same to and from addresses. Anyway, that just shows: you can't have any *real* email privacy without encryption.

I know (2, Interesting)

nickol (208154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779697)

Every day I'm sending them about 30 emails
in spam report. The same spam keeps coming
again and again.


Well, even if they wanted... They'd have to
hire at least the whole population of China.
Or invent a REAL artificial intelligence, which
itself has more value than all our Yahoo mails.

Re:Erase the cookie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779710)

What do you mean "read it is mail"?

Oh, wait a minute. You meant "read its mail".

well, if no one else is going to (-1, Offtopic)

Gribflex (177733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779557)

first post.
please mod this down so it's not in anyones way.

HIS MASSIVE FAILURE IS DIFFICULT TO CIRCUMVENT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779594)

Good thing it was modded down so as not to be in my way!

Re:well, if no one else is going to (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779613)

I keep my threshold at +2 so I don't have see posts like this.

Tit for Tat (2, Insightful)

Fortress (763470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779560)

Seems to me that if they give you a free gig of space, some targeted ads aren't too much to pay. Why not use some other mail and store it on your PC if you feel this is too invasive?

Re:Tit for Tat (3, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779620)

Seems to me that if they give you a free gig of space, some targeted ads aren't too much to pay.
That's the current line of thought, particularly on the libertarian side of the Internet.

I will note, however, that at least in the United States we went ahead and outlawed indentured servitude, even though (a) it was usually entered into voluntarily (b) it often had a net benefit to the indentured party. Still, we felt that the moral and social cost of the "servitude" part was too high to allow individuals to enter into that sort of contract.

Perhaps the privacy advocates are arguing along the same lines here.

I will also note that while Google claims that one of their corporate policies is "don't be evil", they also absolutely refuse to discuss or explain almost any facet of their operations. Just a thought.

sPh

Eternal cookie (5, Funny)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779561)

This would be the cookie that doesn't expire till 2038 yes?

Re:Eternal cookie (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779653)

I'm sure I'd format my system once or twice between now and then.

FP!! (-1, Offtopic)

craigmarshall (679127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779565)

FP!!

Re:FP!! (0, Offtopic)

darien (180561) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779600)

YW.

Two Cookies Would Fix it (3, Funny)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779575)

After all not even a company like google could keep track of that much information. :P

Re:Two Cookies Would Fix it (0, Insightful)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779654)

You DO realize you're talking about the company that has cached the Internet, correct? And in RAM, no less (if I recall correctly - maybe it was just the most used pages that are cached in RAM.)

These providers can't just do as they please... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779576)

"These providers can't just do as they please and hide behind a contract," Privacy International's Davies said.

YES they can! it's called an eula...

Er... (5, Insightful)

Inuchance (559556) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779578)

If you don't want them to have your personal info, then don't provide it! GMail is a service, not a requirement.

So? (4, Informative)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779579)

You want a gig of email but with privacy? Go sign up at Spymac [spymac.com] . It's also free, and it's already here - and not in beta. And they don't read your email.

Re:So? (3, Funny)

fetus (322414) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779642)

"And they don't read your email."

spy mac?

Re:So? (2, Informative)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779713)

The name is much older than the email service - it used to be just forums, probably for rumor reporting and discussion back in the day.

Now it functions very well as a replacement to .Mac - free, even. 100MB webspace FREE, a gig of email FREE, iCal hosting, 250MB for pictures - yes - FREE. I'm amazed they turn a profit at all. (They have paid web hosting as well, something like $17/month for a couple domains and 1GB webspace... still a pretty good deal.)

Privacy policy is here (1)

PhuckH34D (743521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779655)

The privacy policy of Spymac is here [spymac.com] for people that don't trust it yet :)

btw. I tried to sign up, but they send an email to you with a link to activate your account, but I still didnt get the mail (its been 6 hours)...

also in the BBC (4, Informative)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779580)

BBC Article [bbc.co.uk]

This is stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779582)

Look, they aren't charging for the service, nor are they forcing you to use it. Do you expect privacy with a "free" online mail service? No, so why complain about this?

I am all for privacy groups, but pissing and moaning about a free service that you may or may not want to take advantage of is flat out stupid, especially when you can just use PGP/GnuPG and not worry about it.

Data Protection Act (5, Informative)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779657)

Look, they aren't charging for the service, nor are they forcing you to use it.

Whether its free or not is irrelevant. In the UK, there is legislation (the so-called Data Protection Act [hmso.gov.uk] ) which places tight constraints on how personal data is archived and managed. If the Google mail service falls foul of this act, then it does not matter whether or not the service is free; it is still breaking the law.

Re:Data Protection Act (5, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779727)

But the DPA prevents usage of personal information for purposes other than that for which it was collected. If anybody explains why they are collecting information about you, and receives your OK to do so (opt-in, not opt-out), it does not seem to me that they are breaking the DPA. Google is very open. If they put all this clearly (as they do) in their Terms and Conditions, and then keep to their word, I don't see that the DPA being involved.

Nobody's forcing you... (5, Interesting)

LinuxOnHal (315199) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779583)

If someone has a problem with the way the advertising is done, then they shouldn't use it. It is not like Google is hiding all of this information from their users.

All of this complaining and bickering for a service that is not yet released...

Re:Nobody's forcing you... (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779692)

Oh my god. You idiots and your "well, you don't have to use it." STFU. Fucking retards. In that case, drugs should be legal. If you don't like drugs, then don't fucking buy from the dealers.

Re:Nobody's forcing you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779751)

Yeah...you fucking idiots that think everything is free, need to take your heads out of your asses and realize that *somebody* pays for everything, be it you, the end user (god forbid) or sponsors. Think about that next time you send e-mail from your free hotmail account with your pirated copy of Windows.

Ummm??? (0, Redundant)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779591)

How about you demand a refund?

Its free and its not mandatory. Quit whining.

Re:Ummm??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779752)

How about whining about your punctuation?

"it's" means "it is". "its" is possessive.

1Gb of mail (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779592)

I'm giving a fuck about privacy... What other mail provider that supply 1Gb of storage and cool search tools over your mailbox? And Yahoo! and others collect your data also...

Hello?! (1)

gt25500 (622543) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779596)

Since when is Google forcing people to use this service? If you do not like the policy, do not use this free service.
Why should Google provide a service (a large one at that) and get nothing out of it?
News Flash!Nothing in this world is free.

Re:Hello?! (2, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779705)

Thank you.

I have several credit cards attached to my frequent flier program. I get a couple more e-mails and a couple more snail mails a month, but for no additional effort on my part (except for skimming through a couple of offers each month), I get a few thousand extra frequent flier miles each year. It's not enough for a free flight on its own, but it can push me over the edge if I'm close enough.

They have all kinds of information on me -- spending habits, information on where I live and where I travel -- but I entered into the contract willingly. I gave up a small part of my privacy in exchange for a benefit to me.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779601)

fuck you hahaha gmoney in hizzou

I wish to register a complaint (5, Funny)

minus9 (106327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779606)

I wish to complain about the post I am going to make half an hour from now. It is inflammatory and totally uncalled for.

Re:I wish to register a complaint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779648)

You better follow up on this, I will be watching your posting history over the next hour.

Gmail - Opt-In (4, Informative)

Silwenae (514138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779608)

I can understand the concerns Europeans may have, but then again, this is an opt-in procedure.

If you don't want to use Gmail, you have other options through your ISP, other free services, etc.

It just seems to me this is an extension of social networking, but from a business perspective. - target based advertising based on what you surf for based on your cookie.

It seems similar in a way to what Gnome's Nat Friedman wants to do with Dashboard. Based on your email & IM, having the desktop provide you with links to what you're talking about.

To me, the pro's at this point from what we know may outweight the cons - yes they'll target me with ad's based on my surfing behavior, but the ability to index and search my email rather than using "To" "From" and "Subject" headers is definitely a step forward in email management.

Re:Gmail - Opt-In (2, Funny)

Throtex (708974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779690)

I, on the other hand, have serious trouble understanding anything the Europeans do. I'm glad you've figured them out. :)

Do it yourself (-1, Offtopic)

thpdg (519053) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779610)

Anyone can get access to a POP3/SMTP provider for almost no cost, with pretty free limits. Why is webmail so popular?
For $9.95 a month, you can use PHP Webhosting [phpwebhosting.com]
They are reliable, fast, and they offer the most amazing webhosting plans as part of the package.
Just try it, what can it hurt.

Re:Do it yourself (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779701)

Used them before. They weren't bad, but the server died around 5 times a day - if not more.

How can this be illegal? (1)

Nerd With Nalgene (740915) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779611)

Unfriendly, sure.
Annoying, sure.
Even worth boycotting the service, if you're paranoid like that.
But by no stretch of the imagination is this an infringement of anyone's rights--that would require that it not be a choice.

It's not like they hide this fact (1, Redundant)

kcornia (152859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779617)

What's to complain about? They're up front about it when you sign up for the service, if you don't like, don't use.

But either way, quit yer bitchin'!

Can I file a complaint against MS now? (3, Insightful)

jamonterrell (517500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779618)

Since by the same measure, Microsoft can track a user by the personal information given through the passport/hotmail registration procedure through every website you visit using THEIR browser, every program you run on THEIR operating system, every document you read/write with THEIR office application.
Innocent until proven guilty. When they start using this for an invasion of privacy, then you can complain, at this point they haven't even offered the service, how can you complain that they've invaded your privacy.

Besides, if you don't like it, don't create an account and go back to wearing your tinfoil hat. They aren't using strongarm tactics to force you to use their product.

Jamon.

What's there to complain about? (-1, Redundant)

Xeo 024 (755161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779619)

Really, what is there to complain about? Google is offering a free e-mail service, something that they are not forced to use.

Not only that, you think Google would really hire employees to read millions and millions of e-mails? I really don't think so. They also need some way to provide for the hardware used for this e-mail service, and they're doing it through advertising.

It's a script that is reading your e-mails, not a person, and if you have something that is really confidential to say, don't post it on the Internet!

They have no reason to complaint, don't like it? Don't use it.

Re:What's there to complain about? (0, Redundant)

Xeo 024 (755161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779688)

Hate to reply to my own post, but SpyMac [spymac.com] is also in the same market as google, as far as e-mail goes. They're offering 1 GB of e-mail with no 'context-sensitive' advertising all for free.

Oh For The Love Of God (2, Interesting)

Talez (468021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779621)

If you don't the terms and conditions go with another mail provider.

But I suppose when Google is the only mail provider providing a gig of space, it's no wonder why privacy advocates are jumping up and down.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. Google is a private company. They own the servers and the bandwidth. These privacy advocates can go jump as far as I'm concerned.

Ironically (1)

captnitro (160231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779622)

Posted on Yahoo! news.

Why shouldn't google be able to link data? (5, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779625)

I'm still not entirely sure what everyone's complaint is here. You don't have to join Gmail to use google. They openly admit that they may combine data (unlike everyone else who do combine data but refuse to tell anyone about it)

If you don't want google using your data, don't give it to them. Personally, I'm happy for google to have all my data if it will improve my browsing and emailing experience, and that is my personal choice to make.

What people should be complaining about is insurance and credit card companies which buy incomplete and incorrect sets of data and judge your credit rating based on it (it's happened to me). Now thats dodgy.

Microsoft Exchange? (5, Interesting)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779627)

"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.

snip

"If a person deletes an email, he should be confident that email is actually deleted," said Maurice Westerling, co-founder of Bits of Freedom, another privacy interest group, based in the Netherlands.

MS Exchange has settings for the email retention period. If you delete something from your mailbox in Outlook, then empty your Trash folder, it's effectively gone from your view and you've no way to retrieve it. It is however stored in Exchange for as long as the administrators wish to hang onto it (and that "deleted" email is, indeed, backed up and restorable).

If you shift-delete an object out of your Inbox, using that wonderful permanent-kill technique that the tech-savvy thinks protects and anonymizes their email... it's stored for the email retention period listed by the sysadmins, is backed up, and is restorable. It looks very dead to /you/, but not to /us/.

(fyi, the only real way around this is to edit your Outlook client so that you can get the Recover Deleted Items option on every object in your inbox [as opposed to just the Recycle Bin], then habitually view -- and purge -- that information on a schedule that is more frequent than the one used for our backups. That'd work.)

Anyway, the shorter point is, this kind of thing happens. The reason is happens is liability. If a criminal organization is using Google's GMail system for planning a robbery, or if a terrorist group decides they want to attack rail systems in Europe and wants to do so by using random public terminals to sign into email accounts that someone else hosts, it's a problem. If law enforcement comes looking and Google has to say "Oh, sorry - we respect privacy so much that we absolutely and permanently delete all traces of all email the second you touch the delete object!", it will not be a pleasant thing. The investigators will not be happy.

Alternate question; do you really think that your email is permanently gone from Yahoo! and Hotmail?

Do you really think they can't restore to an arbitrary point in time?

Do you think they wouldn't turn that info over to law enforcement in a heartbeat if a court order came down? :)

Are the rules /that/ different in Europe?

Re:Microsoft Exchange? (3, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779722)

Anyway, the shorter point is, this kind of thing happens. The reason is happens is liability. If a criminal organization is using Google's GMail system for planning a robbery, or if a terrorist group decides they want to attack rail systems in Europe and wants to do so by using random public terminals to sign into email accounts that someone else hosts, it's a problem. If law enforcement comes looking and Google has to say "Oh, sorry - we respect privacy so much that we absolutely and permanently delete all traces of all email the second you touch the delete object!", it will not be a pleasant thing. The investigators will not be happy.

That's an interesting point. They might not be happy, but so? Does anyone have a legal (vs. moral) obligation to retain every piece of data Just In Case There's A Terrorist Hiding Under The Bed? Same with corporations. There's no law saying you need to have an email retention period of x, right? Companies do it for business reasons, not because it's mandatory (and in many cases [hello, Microsoft] it's come back to bite them in the ass).

Re:Microsoft Exchange? (1)

sgtron (35704) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779728)

"Do you think they wouldn't turn that info over to law enforcement in a heartbeat if a court order came down? :)"

Do you think it would even take a court order? Hello Patriot Act...

Re:Microsoft Exchange? (5, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779774)

The real reason they're keeping the data is the way google's distributed file system works.

It uses 64mb-chunks of disk space, and instead of erasing data from within the chunk, it just flags it as deleted, thereby not fragmenting the filesystem fantastically. That method means it's practically impossible to delete the email.

It has to be kept on their filesystem as the inbox is searchable, and 1gb large - raid arrays just wouldn't cope with that stress (and it'd take 3 days to search your mail). The filesystem is the real genius of google - their system is made of hundreds of terabytes of storage on a distributed system. Thousands of servers running redundantly. When one dies (with that many it's a regular occurance) it gets swapped out seamlessly. The processing on the data also requires huge bandwidth throughput.

To me, it looks like the google boys found a great use for their systems, but the very methods that make them great contradict local law in some areas they're selling in.

Oh, and the rules are that different in europe ;)

If you dont like it... (1)

Adam Snow (768961) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779630)

If you dont like it, dont use it. My $0.02

Read it. (4, Informative)

mystery_bowler (472698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779632)

Here is the privacy policy. [google.com]

I didn't see anything in there about this particular topic, although there is a bit about the fact that they will be using cookies (natch).

Personally, I find it hard to be too concerned about this. My web-surfing patterns are already recorded in a "soft" way via my browser history and a much "harder" way via my ISP's access logs. I can go out of my way to use proxies and make it difficult to trace, etc, but it isn't like you can't figure out what my machine is doing (unless I'm doing some fairly advanced stuff).

The man on the street (1)

benjiboo (640195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779633)

The thing is, the average user is happy to trade their privacy for a service useful to them. Here in the UK for instance, most people are happy to use supermarket loyalty cards that provdes this kind of tracking data to companies for mining and targetted advertising.


It could be argued that this kind of data represents partial payment for the service. It's obviously very valuable as the companies are glad to offer certain cash-back offers in the form of rewards for it.


Off the top of my head, I also can't think of an argument against this IF you have nothing to hide in your online activities. I'm sure there is one, but again, the average law abiding user wouldn't be so concerned about this as the slashdot crowd.

Americans, wake up! (3, Informative)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779637)

This is about European Union privacy laws, which are different than those in the United States. It says so multiple times, quite clearly in the article.

Re:Americans, wake up! (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779781)

Then Google has a pretty easy solution: don't offer it to the Europeans. If the EU is that concerned about it, then that's fine, it's their right, but Google doesn't HAVE to offer it to you. They probably won't lose any money on it, considering how much they'd end up 'losing' if they COULDN'T target their ads towards you.

(By 'losing' I mean "theoretically could have made but didn't". I'm sure there's a proper term for it, but I haven't the slightest idea as to what that may be.

Re:Americans, wake up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779788)

EU: great protector of individual privacy?

I think I just pissed my pants from laughing so hard.

*sigh* (0, Flamebait)

broothal (186066) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779638)

I read the article - what did it say after "blah blah blah blah"?

Don't Like it, Don't Use It (0, Redundant)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779639)

Nothing to see here. No reason for any commission or anything. As long as everything is up front from the get go you can choose to use this service or not.

Re:Don't Like it, Don't Use It (2, Interesting)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779775)

As has been stated elsewhere, this isn't about whether or not Google's policies state what they are doing, it is about whether such a policy breaks European privacy laws. Would you let a European company offer a service in the US that was illegal, as long as it wasn't compulsory to use it?

One rule for some... (3, Insightful)

plumby (179557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779641)

It seems like most of the comments so far are along the lines "it's voluntary, google should be allowed to do what they want."

It would be interesting to see the reaction on /. if this had been a Microsoft service.

Re:One rule for some... (3, Insightful)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779676)

If this had been a Microsoft service, it would be (crappily) integrated into the OS and locked out from any other competitors.

Nice (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779667)

Did someone just graduate from assertiveness training or something? Perhaps next time you ought to actually wait until the product is released until you go throwing a shit-fit about it.

Um, what's the point? (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779668)

Call me crazy, but I don't see the point in using an email service where you CAN'T DELETE your emails. WTF?

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

Don't Worry.. (1)

handmedowns (628517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779670)

no one from the slashdot crew is even interesting enough to "spy" on..

I think these guys have watched Enemy of the State / Anti-Trust too many times.


Fighting initial reactions... (2, Insightful)

Valejo (689967) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779673)

When I first heard about the privacy concerns involved in the Gmail project, my initial reaction was to trust Google no matter what to "Do no evil." However, perhaps we should put aside our love for the company and ask critically whether this breeches acceptable advertising practices. For me, I'm uneasy with the idea of saving "deleted" mail.

Use two cookies (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779679)

If the fear is of linkage between email, which gives the identity of the user, along with searching behaviour, then just use different cookies. Presumably there will be a new domain, Gmail.com, rather than the current subdomain off Google.com, which will make keeping the cookies separate trivial.

Also, the statements that mail may not be deleted is probably just a legal disclaimer in case it's not deleted immediately. What would be the point of keeping it -- it's just a legal timebomb to keep it around. But perhaps it's because they intend to separate spam and just keep one copy of each unique message, and give you a pointer to the Viagra ad, kiddie porn site, etc if you really do want to read your spam; in which case they might delete your link but not the actual message.

Hehe (0)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779681)

Watch out world, your search engine is watching you... Just wait, we'll have microchips in money and our cars next..

Privacy Groups (5, Insightful)

Fortress (763470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779682)

Any one else think it's odd that a privacy group is complaing about a service that isn't available to the public yet? I'm all for privacy, but let's pick the reasonable battles. It will be repeated ad nauseum here, but you don't HAVE to sign up for Gmail.

I would much rather that privacy groups spend their finite resources fighting the stuff we don't have the option of avoiding, Big Government and such.

Seems like any other organization, privacy groups have to justify their existence by creating problems where none exist.

Knee Jerk reaction (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779687)

This seems to me to be very much a knee-jerk reaction. Provided that Google is up-fromt will all this, why shouldn't I be given the opportunity to opt-in to such a service? I entirely agree that this should not be done secretly - but Google is very upfront. Surely it is not an invasion of privacy if I explicitly accept that Google will scan my mail as part of paying for the service.

I like Google Adwords. Given that advertising is an endemic part of life, and is not going to go away, Adwords is the way I want it. Let Google take all the advertising revenue with Adwords, and may the popup merchants go broke. If Google want to offer a paid-for non-Adwords service, I shall think about it - and probably not buy it.

As to keeping some of your email when you delete it - I don't think this is intentional. AFAICS Google has a "weak delete" policy - they try to recover deleted space, but if they don't recover it all, too bad - disks are cheap. So there may well be old copies of your emails hanging round. What the hell - they are not indexed, so it will take a deep search to find it. Do Yahoo, Hotmail & Co guarantee a destructive overwrite when they delete your mail? I doubt it - in which case they might have an old copy lying round on their disks.

So, privacy people, don't spoil what looks like it might (subject to confirmation, of course) be a useful, opt-in service because of arcane potential privacy problems.

What a bunch of British Turds (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779689)

Okay, folks, this is just like censorship. If you don't like it, don't use it. (George Carlin has pointed out TVs and radios have two buttons: one to change the channel, the other to turn it off)

In this case, if you think GMail is going to infringe on *your* "rights", then just don't use it. There are plenty of other resources. Somehow, people seem to think if something isn't the way they want it to be, they'll sue and remold it in their own warped vision. And if they think it might bother someone else, they get PO'd as well, fighting in advance before people have a chance to make up their own minds.

I have no doubts but if Microsoft offered this there'd be just as much belly aching but if Netscape or Slashdot did, there would be an upfront comment followed by silent assent. (claiming Netscape or Slashdot wouldn't ever do such a think does not count). Frankly, I'm surprised anyone is raising a stink against Google. (just because it's Google)

Every service "reads" your mail (3, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779706)

I mean, think about it. Let's say that you have webmail with one of the other major providers. Somebody sends you mail. You reply. They reply. Now your email has a couple of levels of ">" in it. Wouldn't it be nice if they highlighted those in different colors or something?

Oh, wait - they already do that? (Note: at least, this was common the last time I bothered with webmail which was some time ago). Guess what - that's "reading" your mail as well. In fact, they're just changing your display - without changing the verbal contact of your message - to make it more convenient for you.

Isn't that also a (reaching, but legitimate) description of providing targetted advertising? I mean, how many times have people here on /. said about ads that if they made sense, they wouldn't mind 'em? Guess what - that's targetting. And how they're supposed to make sense and be timely without some kind of processing is beyond me.

As for the article's complaint, it seems to focus around the fact that when you "delete" an email, Google doesn't guarantee that it goes away immediately. Their message seems to be talking about cache updates though - if they were willing to amend it with a service guarantee that within xx hours your email would be deleted, that would probably do the trick. Of course, then people would be arguing that they needed to provide complete file-trashing (triple overwrite, etc) as well, even though your regular email client and ISPs email account probably don't do that.

I think its just a case of being too cautious in their terms of use. In this case, being too honest where the other major providers are being "honest enough," and not worrying about caches, et cetera. Of course, they may be planning to use your old email for nefarious purposes, but somehow I doubt it. Either way, they should clarify their statement.

MTA message size (1)

Metroid72 (654017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779707)

I wonder how much will be the restriction on the size of files that you can send in and out of your @gmail address.

Sending myself 500MB of MP3 files to have on the road comes to mind.

Re:MTA message size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779791)

> Sending myself 500MB of MP3 files to have on the road comes to mind.

Buy an iPod, tightwad.

"Privacy groups in the UK"... (1)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779709)

... will eventually file for bankruptcy, once they discover hotmail / MS Passport and the endless privacy invasion possibilities these offer to M$ ... complaining about google seems slightly disproportionate ...

Email is not private (5, Insightful)

lordbios (729438) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779711)

Email in its basic form is not, nor has never been, private. There have never been any promises that email was private. I remember from the first time I used email that it was always likened to mailing stuff on a postcard, not in a sealed envelope. It's also not like Google is trying to hide the fact that they are scanning your emails. It is right out in the open in the terms of agreement. If you don't agree, don't sign up...

PGP anyone? (1)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779717)

If you're concerned about privacy in your emails, why not use encryption?

The freeware PGP-type solutions are reasonably secure and quite simple to use.

Jim

excuse me? (1, Insightful)

Vlion (653369) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779732)

I don't feel like like getting my email data-mined.

Thats basically what Google wants to do with your email, if you havn't figured it out already.

And I'm not going to join the horde in Google adulation- Google seem to be quite happy to mine your data six ways from anywhere. I definatly don't want all of my email and searching centralized like that to a company that whilst is a techical genius, seems to have some moral issues regarding personal data and the use thereof.

I'm not going to have a gmail account until that policy gets changed. Go privacy group in UK !!!

Government wiretaps (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779734)

I wonder how long it is before google are happily releasing personal information under Patriot Act orders. I know they might have no choice in such a case, but why store information that could be used to oppress American citizens when such an order does happen?
Google need to get some sense in this tyrannical age.

moreover... (2, Funny)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779738)

The retiree who lives across my street is able to watch me leave my house each morning. She thus can chronolog my work-habits, mood, weight, fashion-sense, etc.

I've petitioned the town council to have her windows boarded up.

meh (0)

mastergoon (648848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779744)

if you are sending something so important you are afraid of google checking it against adwords, use your own server, or encrypt it.

You get what you pay for (3, Interesting)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779755)

Am I the only one with ZERO sympathy when users of FREE services whine?

April Fools (3, Insightful)

doublesix (590400) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779759)

Is it just me or is this whole GMail thing an April Fools prank gone horribly wrong?
Read the Google news release again:
The inspiration for Gmail came from a Google user complaining about the poor quality of existing email services, recalled Larry Page, Google co-founder and president, Products. "She kvetched about spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them," Page said. "And when she's not doing that, she has to delete email like crazy to stay under the obligatory four megabyte limit. So she asked, 'Can't you people fix this?'"
The idea that there could be a better way to handle email caught the attention of a Google engineer who thought it might be a good "20 percent time" project. (Google requires engineers to spend a day a week on projects that interest them, unrelated to their day jobs). Millions of M&Ms later, Gmail was born.

Kinda fishy.

so don't use it (2)

hekal (123928) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779762)

if you're so concerned about gmail, stick with M$ hatemail and the 1mb limit or whatever that piece of crap gives you.

Personal Communication (1)

mojorisin67_71 (238883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779766)

Gmail might be the first communication carrier
which is going to listen to personal communications and sellwhat it learns
information to its customers.

Imagine the phone company listening to conversions
and then sending you offers for products based
on what you talk about.

This is very different than spam/virus scanning.
In that the email is scanned but compared against
a pattern. In Gmail's case, the email is scanned
and information is gleaned from it.

I think Gmail starts a dangerous precendent. Once
companies think it is okay to listen to personal
communications then the possibilities are scary!

Privacy in the UK? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8779782)

This is the country that has one video camera
for every 14 people, yes? At least people get
to _choose_ whether they want to use GMail or
not...

Ha ha (1)

abzorb (250578) | more than 10 years ago | (#8779792)


This is not a technology problem.

Just put this on the front page of the gmail site,"Sorry not available to European Consumers".

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