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|Calif. lawmaker moves to block Google's Gmail|
Drafting legislation to block gmail
|SAN FRANCISCO, April 12 (Reuters) - A California state senator on Monday said she was drafting legislation to block Google Inc (News - Websites) .'s free e-mail service 'Gmail' because it would place advertising in personal messages after searching them for key words." |
|"It's like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home...." |
LOL! Talk about hyperbole.
But this just underscores what a poor job G has done of introducing and explaining Gmail. The April-Fool-or-not announcement was brilliant for the buzz it created, but it's been all downhill since then. G needs to start acting instead of waiting for things like this and then reacting.
".....and expand its business as the Mountain View, California-based company nears an expected initial public offering of stock."
Hmmm, interesting ;)
A law? Thought it was just the Webmaster crowd complaining :)
Did I miss something or I am the only one living on earth?
- It is still in beta testing and used by a limited quantity of people?
- Did anyone will be forced to use GMail?
- Did any web based services where you stored data tell you they will erase all the backup tape data and they use multiple rewriting on deleted data to be sure the all the trace are erase?
- Did other service of ad serving will never use content to serve ad?
- Did anyone investigate on the Andy Beal post of 19 february about Yahoo Privacy flagrant violation?
- Did any senator write a drafting legislation about Hotmail glitch who let expose everybody email account to everyone?
- Did anyone know what Carnivore and Echelon grab about your email account?
|- Did anyone will be forced to use GMail? |
no, but you might be "forced" to reply to an email you received from somebody sending it from gmail - once you reply google will exploit your private thoughts and make a profit out of it without paying anything to you or even asking you.
|- Did other service of ad serving will never use content to serve ad? |
That's what it all comes down to: will Y and MSN do the same? "content ads" in emails might be just the beginning, once people are getting used to it they might accept even more.
Several european countries prohibit to mix private communications with advertisements because they consider it as unethical - some here also called it evil. I am really surprised that so many members of WebmasterWorld like the idea of breaking this barrier, there is simply no need for it (besides the need for google to use internet users as a tool to make additional revenue), the average user already sees far to many ads - if you wanna get a lot of storage for your email get a bigger drive, 1G costs like $1 to $2 and you don't have to sell your soul.
I already (respectfully) gave this lawmaker a piece of my mind via email. I hope she'll do her homework (which she should have, but apparently did not do, already). Call me a Google patsy, if you wish, but even though I don't plan on having Gmail be my primary mail system, I am excited about using it as a backup for my mail, a search tool, and also a way check my messages while traveling. I am very concerned about grandstanding lawmakers and (possibly) sincere but misguided privacy-focused organizations causing the delay or even cancellation of Google's groundbreaking service.
|That's what it all comes down to: will Y and MSN do the same? "content ads" in emails might be just the beginning, once people are getting used to it they might accept even more. |
You overlook the fact that many of us either like the ads or are indifferent to them. Personally, in my testing of Gmail so far, I don't even notice them... and that surprises me!
|Several european countries prohibit to mix private communications with advertisements because they consider it as unethical - some here also called it evil. |
Have they yet forbidden name brand clothing? I know when I was living in Europe, I saw (ad) logos on clothing, even when having private conversations with people! When I was at a restaurant having an intimate dinner, I saw ads on coasters, ads on matchbook covers, and so on. If the presence of ads bothers you (and, I concede, I think in some ways this world'd be more peaceful with less commercialism), then don't get Gmail. It's not for you, and that's okay! :)
But evil? Oh my goodness. I must say, I'm personally concerned when people start equating advertising issues with "evil." Murderous tyrants are evil. Hit and run drivers, quite possibly evil. Underfunding schools, definitely evil. But putting ads next to email? Please, I beg of you, despite understandable concerns, let's keep all of this in perspective in the context of our complex world.
|I am really surprised that so many members of WebmasterWorld like the idea of breaking this barrier, there is simply no need for it (besides the need for google to use internet users as a tool to make additional revenue) |
There's no "need" for a lot of stuff. No need for these forums, no need for even email at all, really. Why not send over the correspondence by horse and carriage? (floatable horse and carriage for transatlantic communications)
|the average user already sees far to many ads - if you wanna get a lot of storage for your email get a bigger drive, 1G costs like $1 to $2 and you don't have to sell your soul. |
A bigger drive doesn't allow me to access my mail from anywhere. A bigger drive doesn't let me scan through tens of thousands of emails with amazing speed. And a bigger drive certainly doesn't automatically include redundant backups in case of hard drive failure, flood or fire, etc.
|...the need for google to use internet users as a tool to make additional revenue |
Not just Google.
ThatAdamGuy you are a Google patsy
[just following instructions]
LOL, okay, fine, I asked for it ;).
And in the meantime... I really wish Google had done a better, much more proactive job of PR. Did they give test accounts to prominent journalists? Did they fly out to visit with WSJ's influential Walt Mossberg and have him play with the service? Did they have key CEOs (Jeff Bezos, Carly Fiorina, etc.) take Gmail for a whirl? Clearly not. :(
Right now, I think so much of the paranoia, fear, and concern is stemming from uncertainty and to a great extent a lack of awareness of how the service works. And that's not surprising!
Google has really dropped the PR ball on this one :¦
* * *
Er... now you can call me a bi-polar Google patsy? :D
ThatAdamGuy, would be interested in your response to message 38 in this thread.
I have to agree with ThatAdamGuy in saying that this women really doesn't have a clue. According to the reuters newswire she objected to Gmail because "it would place advertising in personal messages after searching them for key words". Given the screenshots that we have seen it would seem to me that this women really should perhaps actually talk with some of the people that have actually used the service. She would probably change her tune once she became better informed. Liz Figueroa seems to be like most politicians that really don't take the time to understand more technical issues and frequently make blunders like this. This proposal looks a politician who is looking for some boogy man they can claim they fought against for some future campaign.
It would surprise me if most free email providers don't keep at least some personal information. Most of these companies aren't providing free email at the goodness of their heart. Giving some information about yourself is part of the bargain.
I couldn't myself using there service because I am not a big fan of free email. That said I don't think that lawmakers should be preventing other people from using Gmail provided that they are upfront with their customers about their privacy practices. This sounds better than most free email since Google isn't attaching adds to your outgoing emails. That has to be more annoying that anything that has been proposed with Gmail.
I've said this in other threads ... I still don't understand what's the big freakin deal. Why is everyone so concerned with everyone else's business?
If you don't like GMail policies, don't create an account, don't send mail to one, and don't reply to someone who sent you mail from one. Blocking hosts and mail servers certainly isn't anything new, we've all been doing it for years. If you really have that much of a problem with it, just STAY OUT OT IT. It's not your right or obligation to tell anyone else whether they can use the service or not.
It's pretty stupid try to stop the service from launching just because YOU don't agree with their policy. Personally, I look forward to using their service. I only use free email accounts for signing up for websites so I don't have to give out my "real" one and get spammed. Problem is I have to log in to Yahoo every 2 - 3 days and delete everything to make room.
Google will fix that problem for me, plus they'll be able to show me ads for sites that have similar content as to what I'm already signing up for.
This is a GOOD thing - why are webmasters and governments are trying to stop it? Mind your own freakin business - if you don't like it, don't sign up. Don't ruin it for me and others who are happily waiting for this service to become available.
[edited by: WebGuerrilla at 6:25 pm (utc) on April 13, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed political commentary [/edit]
|Mind your own freakin business - if you don't like it, don't sign up. Don't ruin it for me and others who are happily waiting for this service to become available. |
That's pretty much how I feel too. only not quite as angry.
One good thing that may come out of this would be if privacy is taken more seriously by everyone. Google certainly shouldn't be the only company held to these types of standards.
If Google wanted to store every e-mail message for eternity and pay minimum wage workers to do nothing but read them and memorize them and use the information to boost their own sales, they should have that RIGHT - as long as they're honest about it. Which they have been.
It's THEIR network, THEIR drive space/memory, THEIR bandwidth, and they're giving you a freebie in exchange for letting them use whatever data you receive there in a manner consistent with what was disclosed in their policy. Either you like their terms or you don't - either you sign up or you don't. You have that choice ... no one is forcing you to use GMail or interact with users who do.
Frankly, if you want privacy use your own mail client and only send encrypted e-mails. Privacy is YOUR responsibility.
I'm all for legislation that forces companies to DISCLOSE their privacy practices. But I'm not at all for legislation that forces privacy itself - that's my decision to make.
Whoa buddy, I was just looking to the bright side of things.
I agree with you 100%. But now, maybe people will pay more attention to TOS and privacy issues- that's all.
> if you don't like it, don't sign up. Don't ruin it for me
The tos is not applicable. It isn't about signing up, it is about those that didn't sign up that get used in the process without their permission.
Isn't that the case with everything though? When you send someone an e-mail, you have no idea who they are going to forward it to or who may be standing over their shoulder looking at it.
If your concern is for the non-Gmail user who doesn't know anything about GMail's privacy and is sending a message to a GMail user, then your concern is misplaced. What a user does with a message after you've sent it to them is beyond your control - whether it's being read by a machine or forwarded by the recipient. Once that message leaves your network, you have no idea who is looking at it anyway.
The GMail user who signed up and read the terms like they're supposed to would know the level of privacy they can expect to receive and they're OK with it. Since they gave you their e-mail address, they're affirming that THEY are OK with Google "reading" whatever you send them.
Besides, I feel that I need to remind people that we're talking about a computer scanning the messages for the sole purpose of content targeting. It's not like it's actually a person there reading your private e-mail and writing down any paswords you receive there.
Brett brings up the most important point of all here. Unless the ToS pop up for everyone who's about to send an e-mail to a gmail account, then they're doing this to people without their consent. It'll be interesting to see how this works through.
Sounds like this issue might be the specific reason why G hasn't been on the PR bandwagon. They probably were hoping to quietly get a decent sized user base and then worry about these pesky privacy details after they had happy customers.
I just got an interesting voicemail. It was a friend saying that "Angie's birthday party starts at 6:00 this Saturday."
Before I got to the voicemail though, I had to listen to one ad about "Great gift ideas on eBay" and another for the "Discount Party Supply Depot."
No big deal.
|I'm all for legislation that forces companies to DISCLOSE their privacy practices. But I'm not at all for legislation that forces privacy itself - that's my decision to make. |
I largely agree with this sentiment, though with a few exceptions.
I don't think it should apply to companies that have a proven monopoly. I also believe there should be intervention in cases involving required, necessary, or youth-related services (in which they cannot be expected to offer informed consent, for instance).
But in this case, we're talking about an optional, non-essential service from a non-Monopoly. I completely agreet that in cases like this, DISCLOSURE is really the key. What gets my goat is when scum companies like Gator, er, I mean Claria attempt to basically hide their spyware behind legalese that folks are not expected to read.
|Brett brings up the most important point of all here. Unless the ToS pop up for everyone who's about to send an e-mail to a gmail account, then they're doing this to people without their consent. It'll be interesting to see how this works through. |
This is because, as has been stated in other threads here, Google isn't doing anything differently than any other ISP.
Google's computers parse, display, store, and backup received mail.
Same with AOL, Earthlink, Comcast, and every other ISP.
And until those services display a 'warning,' there are absolutely zero reasons why Google should do so.
"Ah, but Google is offering more storage so there'll be more mail on the service for law enforcement officers to grab!"
So? Lots of people pay for extra storage on Yahoo and Hotmail. Many people have near-unlimited storage on their own domains. Others download all their mail onto their huge hard drives (which can be confiscated by legal authorities).
Again, I note: for people sending e-mail, there are no differences between Gmail and any other service.
[edited by: ThatAdamGuy at 7:38 pm (utc) on April 13, 2004]
In terms of the issue, this is how it breaks down:
1. When it's my ad showing in the emails my competitor sends out, gmail is a fabulous service.
2. When it's my competitor's ad showing in my emails, this is horrible and has to be stopped.
3. There is tremendous potential for abuse by Google. Even if you trust the current Google administration, eventually someone else will be running things and they may not be trustworthy. But then again, your private data is already in the wrong hands. (Imagine the "sensitive" info msn or yahoo has if they want to read personal emails).
4. Google didn't let me join the beta testing. This is awful. GMail must be stopped.
5. Google let me in on their beta testing. They are good guys. We need to support them.
6. As bad (or good) as all of the above is, if Gmail "solves" spam, the vast majority of us will use it and be thrilled about it.
7. It's amazing how quickly our government managed to attack Gmail, even before it's released, and how paltry their efforts after a decade, to eliminate spam. If you want to be cynical, you can send her a letter asking if what's bothering her is that GMail is taking care of spam and some of her constituents benefit from spam? (Just kidding. Maybe.)
Of course any unencrypted e-mail can be intercepted and read. And no-one has any control over an e-mail after it has been sent.
Maybe people are uncomfortable with someone else (besides Big Brother), having a motivation for reading/scanning mass amounts of email for monetary gain. ...yeah I know about spam screening too.
How much more clear can you make it than a full disclosure in the terms of service? I always read them - whenever I sign up for a website or install software I read every single word. If I don't like something, I don't install it.
That's where the law protects us, folks ... the fact that they have to disclose it plain as day. If you choose to ignore it, it's your own stupidity. I mean really, it's RIGHT THERE all laid out in front of you. Just because people choose to ignore the terms doesn't mean you should task developers with outlining specific portions that SOME PEOPLE believe infringes on privacy.
Personally I don't consider Google's message scan an invasion of privacy at all. It's not archiving it, it's not selling it, it's just delivering content-targeted ads to me in exchange for me using their free service. Whether its an invasion of privacy or not is *MY* decision to make when it comes to my e-mail - not yours, not the government's.
And it still doesn't change the fact that if you send e-mail to ANYONE on ANY host, it's out of your control as soon as it leaves your Outbox.
Oh, I also wanted to point out another scenario. Last Halloween I hosted a party and had the whole yard decorated since it was an outdoor party. I had a friend of mine make an animation of a "ghost" which I projected along the fence in the yard using a video projector, so it looked like the ghost was hovering there in the yard.
My point is that people need to pay attention to what they're doing and stop expecting someone else to hold their hand and pad everything for them. If you walk out into traffic and get hit by a bus, would you say that there should have been a sign there notifying you that a bus could potentially drive by and hit you? Of course not - that's retarded. And so is this whole Gmail argument.
While I understand what Brett is saying about people who don't know GMail's policies being unwilling participants, everything I've said still applies:
(1) That scenario isn't what most of the complainers have been whining about, and
(2) When an e-mail leaves your own network, you have no control over it - period. In any case, it's more likely that the recipient of your message will FORWARD IT SOMEWHERE or allow someone standing behind them to see it than someone from Google reading your e-mail.
Oh my, this Senator is *SO* clueless! At risk of being an elitist geek, I wish that people had to get Internet Drivers Licenses before they could use the Net, much less pass laws about it.
Here's a bang-your-head-in-frustration passage:
|She said one concern she has about Gmail is that people sharing an e-mail account, such as a parent and child or two spouses, might infer information from the ads. "What if my daughter gets onto the account and wonders why mom is starting to get e-mail on this issue?" she asked. "If we're talking about medical issues, there's lots of sensitive information out there." |
Inaccuracies? False assumptions? Let thee count the ways!
1) Why would a parent and a child share an email account?!
2) Google EXPRESSLY forbids children (anyone under the age of 13) to use Gmail.
3) Since users are not profiled and no targeting information is maintained from email to email, even if a Mom shared an account with her daughter, her daughter's "Hey, how was school, Suzy?!" email will show different ads than her Mom's health-related mail.
4) The implication that Gmail will actually send separate emails with ads is completely false.
|"I believe you are embarking on a disaster of enormous proportions, for yourself, and for all of your customers," State Sen. Liz Figueroa said in a letter to the Mountain View, Calif., company. |
I can think of many horrible things in this world that are disasters of enormous proportions... catastrophic floods, fires, assasinations, etc. But Gmail? Once again, hyperbole wins over rational discourse.
[edited by: ThatAdamGuy at 8:14 pm (utc) on April 13, 2004]
Who says email is private anyway?
Think of the opportunities here folks.
Actually, what Google should do is to pay the recipient for having an ad flashed at them. Maybe one cent for an ad at the end of the message, two cents at the top, five cents for a political ad ... well, you get the idea, and a bonus if the recipient clicks on it.
Better yet, let the recipient bid on what they'll get paid for getting flashed with an email ad.
Line everyone's pockets and watch how quick the whining stops.
Here's what I don't like...
Writing you an email, and having no idea what will be hyperlinked and to whom by the time it hits your inbox.
In the months ahead, after yahoo and msn follow suit, and after the likes of gator start offering free email, what makes you think that you'll be able to know the difference between hyperlinks I sent you and hyperlinks that were inserted into my email without my permission?
What assurances are there that an "ad" won't look like it's me sending you a link? That might not be how it looks now, but how do we know it won't look like that later?
If I've ever seen a slippery slope that people are missing, this has to be it. Even assurances that my fears are unfounded or committments that it won't turn out that way would be unconvincing to me.
"I am really surprised that so many members of WebmasterWorld like the idea of breaking this barrier"
I think that barrier has been broken a looooong time ago. It just shows more with Google, that's all. Google became the face of that broken barrier, and that was their only mistake.
If you want 1GB of storage, they will have to pay for it somehow. You agree to it, or you don't. It is as simple as that. I think the licence that M$ makes you agree to when you install any of their products is far more invasive, and threatening to privacy than anything Gmail will ever be.
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