| 7:45 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)|
This letter sums it up perfectly for me for example ...
|Ultimately, however, this discussion is not solely about Google. It is about the global tools Google is building, and the ways these tools and systems stand to alter how individuals perceive the sanctity of private communications in the electronic sphere. These perceptions and standards may persist long after Google as a company is gone. |
My big fear is that the old chestnut, "there is no such thing as bad publicity" may apply in this situation. All the publicity that this is generating could actually be in Google's favour.
I am not suggesting that Google intend to use the data in any way other than what is stated but it is the basic principle of privacy that is at stake. Give this up for the sake of free email? I think not. Many of the hotmail and yahoo mail users are unaware that they could have adequate, adfree email for pennies per week. I believe that many of them would pay for it if they knew that it existed. C'mon all you legitimate service providers - what an opportunity you have here!
| 8:18 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I guess no one has ever heard of Carnivore? Makes Gmail look primitive.
| 8:42 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I am in the UK Brett so Carnivore is not an issue. We have MI5 and they also have "powers". However since your Dubya and our Tony are in bed together they are probably sharing information.
Foir my part I have nothing in my past or present that would get me into trouble so it is not a concern for me. (I don't think so anyway?)
However comparing the activities of an intelligence agency with a search engine is probably not fair, at least until Google builds up some decent history :o)
| 9:34 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)|
| 3:50 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
1. April 2, Los Angeles Times, Chris Gaither:
Larry Page wouldn't say whether Google planned to link Gmail users to their Web search queries. "It might be really useful for us to know that information" to make search results better, he said. "I'd hate to rule anything like that out."
2. April 6, Associated Press, Michael Liedtke:
Wayne Rosing said there will be an information firewall separating Google's search engine from Gmail. "We don't use the data collected on one service," he said, "to enhance another."
3. April 8, New York Times, Katie Hafner:
Mr. Rosing said Google did not create links between users' search activity and their Gmail accounts. 'We have no immediate plans to do so in the future,' he said."
Google's actual position:
"As soon as these privacy nuts with the tin foil hats grow tired and leave us alone, we'll get on with our Master Plan."
| 5:24 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Even Conan (late night comedy show in the US) was making jokes about the privacy invasions of Google scanning peoples' email tonight.
| 9:49 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Where I live the Government already does most of what google wants to get upto and worse ...but they dont have the world take over designs that Google apparently do in relation to the internet ....
And if Google does go ahead can't you just hear Moneysoft a few months don the line saying well lets all do it with in mail ads ...( they're near enough doing it now ) ....
And the issue still is ...if you want to sign upto this invasion of privacy ..your choice ...
Why should they think they have the right to store my mails to you if I dont sign up to it.
| 1:44 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I am in the UK Brett so Carnivore is not an issue.
For people seriously concerned about e-mail privacy, Gmail is definitively the least of their worries. The main difference in what they do to what other ISPs and free e-mail providers are doing, is that Google is honest about it. No good deed goes unpunished, eh?
| 2:36 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I have to imagine that Yahoo, Hotmail, and other e-mail providers have generations of backups that include information from previous subscribers.
Do people think that Google techs are going to be reading their old e-mails once they cancel their account? Or that Google is going to publish a book, "Funniest E-mails from our Past Subscribers"?
If your communications are so confidential, a free, third-party hosted e-mail service probably isn't your best solution.
| 4:05 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"For my part I have nothing in my past or present that would get me into trouble so it is not a concern for me. (I don't think so anyway?)"
That's the primary problem with all of these privacy issues. Any time you hear a politician or insider say "if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't be worried" then THAT is when we all need to worry.
It's not about TODAY - it' about tomorrow. What you write TODAY will be taken out of context TOMORROW, placed into a new context you currently cannot predict, and *may* be used against you. Detailed personal info is fodder for the corrupt, no matter how you slice it, and if you are to have any personal freedom it is essential you limit the amount of detailed info about you that is out there freely available to the powers that be (whether they are government, commercial, or even family).
If you have any doubts consider the commercial field of competitive intelligence. Someone pays ME to find out stuff about their competitor... anything that maybe useful strategically, tactically, politically or commercially. I dig through EVRYTHING looking for ANYTHING that may be used against you, whether it is a history of posts revealing apparent liberal tendencies when you are favored for a contract from a Republican administration, a set of early inquiries on a support forum which IN HINDSIGHT may appear to have been foolish, early complaints you aired about corporation X which just happens to be a major client of the company that just hired you, evidence of you having registered a funny looking domain name at one time, etc etc etc.
The debate is not about the obvious... it is about how subtle but pervasive public oversight of otherwise legal behavior subconsciously controls the innocent and inhibits innovation, while enriching the corrupt or evasive. It is a very important issue to all of us.
| 4:22 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Any time you hear a politician or insider say "if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't be worried" then THAT is when we all need to worry.
All that is evidently true. But I don't think it even touches the core of the discussion here.
Why do people supposedly informed about privacy issues bash on Google now, if the primary difference between them and other free e-mail services is their honesty about what they do?
| 4:25 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
This whole debate is ridiculous. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you expect any kind of privacy when using a commercial email service, you are an idiot. If you don't like gmail, don't use it.
NEXT TOPIC PLEASE
| 4:26 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
>>NEXT TOPIC PLEASE
| 4:59 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
>>This whole debate is ridiculous. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you expect any kind of privacy when using a commercial email service, you are an idiot.
It appears I am an idiot then. There is a trust relationship with my email provider that at the very least means that they will not sell the content of my emails for commercial gain. I don't disagree that the possiblity to abuse this exists, but that is hardly the point.
>>If you don't like gmail, don't use it.
Whether I use/boycott/ignore Gmail does not change the fact that it is highly likely my emails will end up in the inbox of a Gmail user before long. The issue here is whether or not a company should be able to exploit private information for commercial gain, and set a dangerous precedent for less ethical companies to abuse this type of information in future.
Gmail users are already associated with their (never to expire) Google search history, and the privacy companies mentioned are right to voice their concerns about Google's unacceptable privacy practices.
>>Why do people supposedly informed about privacy issues bash on Google now, if the primary difference between them and other free e-mail services is their honesty about what they do?
Google's 'honesty' is a public relations exercise and is hardly self evident. I for one will be glad if Google continue to destroy the fallacious public perception of them as trustworthy with hugely revealing incidents such as this.
| 5:18 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
My thought on privacy is that if someone REALLY wanted to know what you were doing...they'd probably know by now.
My conspiracy theory is that all the people that are griping about privacy secretly have all the information on everyone, and just don't want anyone else to have it.
There is no such thing as privacy. Big Brother IS NOT just appearing...We are just starting to see him.
Ever seen "Enemy of the State"...ever heard the saying "Art imitates Life" ;)
| 5:36 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I agree! This is an outrage. Under NO circumstances should Google be allowed to force us to use their email system and have our privacy rights stripped away!
The government must put a stop to this flagrant violation of Everything We Hold Dear. Context-sensitive advertising will destroy us all.
(Too harsh? Probably. Sorry.) :)
| 5:42 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
According to the blog of one G employee, it seems they will soon be making an attempt to share more information about how Gmail works and clear up some of the concerns that have been expressed re: privacy.
This employee states on his blog, for example:
|It's really important to note that ads are served on a per-email basis, and that the ad targeting information exists only as long as it takes to actually serve the ad. As soon as the ad is served: Poof! Gone. It's not recorded into any sort of uber-profile, and it's certainly not passed on to any third party. |
This is the kind of stuff they need to be explaining much more clearly than they have been so far.
| 5:45 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"Google's 'honesty' is a public relations exercise and is hardly self evident."
pixel_juice, I'd disagree with that. For example, our toolbar install process includes a separate page with a message in big red capital letters that says "PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY IT'S NOT THE USUAL YADA YADA." and the advanced features of the toolbar are opt-in, instead of being on by default.
The banner ads that you used to see on other search engines would allow other companies to use web bugs in order to get users' search terms. Showing text ads on Google prevents other companies from cookie-ing searchers on Google, and of course searching Google without a cookie works fine.
Google clearly marked ads as sponsored back when Consumer Alert and the FTC were pointing out that intermingling paid links or not clearly marking paid links was a bad idea.
When other search engines receive a DMCA complaint, they quietly drop that result. At Google, we forward the complaint to Chilling Effects. Then if the search would have brought up that result, we include a notice at the bottom of the results, including a link to the complaint at Chilling Effects, so that the user can read more about the situation.
In the case of Gmail, the main page at www.gmail.com makes it quite clear that instead of banner ads or pop-ups, we'll show text ads, with a link into the FAQ that gives more information.
I do think that when people get a chance to play with Gmail, they'll be quite happy with it. Some screenshots and one blogger's thoughts on it are here, for example: [miscoranda.com...]
| 5:58 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"This is the kind of stuff they need to be explaining much more clearly than they have been so far."
I'd agree with that, pleeker. If you think of it as AdSense for email, that helps to clear up some of the confusion. In the same way that AdSense targets an ad based solely on the content of a page, the ads in Gmail are based on the content of that one email.
I'm looking forward to the widening of the beta; I think when folks get a chance to play with it, it will clear up a lot of misconceptions. Several people here assumed that ads were actually inserted into email, when in fact the ads are shown along the right-hand side of the page, just like with the ads for a web search. And Gmail doesn't append a tag line at the end of emails like several web mail providers do. There's several other nice features, e.g. it can offer related web pages for emails along the right-hand side too. In several ways, looking at an email and seeing extra relevant information reminds me of a project at MIT called The Remembrance Agent. Let's see if I can find the link. Ah, yup: [remem.org...] Not sure if there are many Emacs users in this audience though? I'm mostly a vim person, myself. :)
[edited by: GoogleGuy at 5:59 pm (utc) on April 8, 2004]
|Please Be Gentle|
| 5:59 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I am not so worried about the privacy issues but, has Google looked at the concerns regarding targetted advertizing generally, specifically the fact that if somebody sends an email from a non gmail account, their content will be mined for advertizing, but they have no idea of this?
With Kindest Regards
| 6:01 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
For those of us that have nothing hide and live in the UK ....It might already be to late.
(note how old these articles are)
Quite frankly worrying about Gmail intruding into your privacy is naive in the extreme. GTAC in the UK is quite capable of intercepting anyones mail from what ever source it comes.
It might also be worth noting that these people
know a thing or two about encryption so forget about PGP
| 6:01 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
GG don't get me wrong - I wasn't saying that Google are less trustworthy than other people providing similar services. Indeed, your record in this is regard is admirable. But unfortunately this does not make Google in general an organisation that people should trust any kind of private information with.
With Gmail you have essentially announced your intention to violate privacy in order for commercial gain. So you announced it, fair enough but even then this is tempered by the ever more prominent claims of "no human involvement". But in much the same way as "Our search results are not manipulated by hand. We're not able to make any manual changes to the results" was at best a distortion of the truth, so is the idea that giving a robot access to personal correspondance is any more acceptable than letting a human read it.
Who programs robots? Who determines if the ads shown are indeed relevant? And what other uses can you put this information to once you have been given the green light to collect it? As msg #6 in this thread highlights, as a company Google is willing to change what the public are told in order to preserve the public perception of them as trustworthy.
IMO, even if Google *is* currently trustworthy, the sorts of profiling and information routinely collected or able to be collected by Google are way beyond what the average surfer would find acceptable.
Perhaps future shareholders will be able to find good commercial use for this information once privacy fears have been eased by a friendly public perception of Google at this time.
btw red text is just <red>text here</red> but with square brackets :)
[edited by: pixel_juice at 6:06 pm (utc) on April 8, 2004]
| 6:01 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|our toolbar install process includes a separate page with a message in big red capital letters that says "PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY IT'S NOT THE USUAL YADA YADA." (wish I could find how to make a font red here :) ) |
Hey GG, just wrap the text in...
[red]Red Text Here[/red]
(red)Red Text Here(/red)
Use opening and closing brackets in place of the opening and closing parenthesis.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 6:04 pm (utc) on April 8, 2004]
| 6:02 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|if somebody sends an email from a non gmail account, their content will be mined for advertizing, but they have no idea of this? |
If somebody sends an email from a non Yahoo account, do they have any idea that their content will be mined to filter out the spam?.
By all accounts, who's going to pay the $ for 1mil 1GB accounts?. Do you think 1000+ staff of Google would have enough time in the world to read the 1mil user's messages and tons of spam that comes along? That said, Gmail is not for everyone.
| 6:08 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
GG The privacy issues don't worry me one bit..what does worry me is what impact this will have on adsense publishers earnings.
GG has the chance to become the Dick Clarke of Google
| 6:10 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Awesome--many thanks, pageoneresults! :) PBG, I think of the situation as akin to posting on a forum that displays ads. If the forum is a free service that is supported by ads, you have to choose whether you want to contribute the wisdom of your posts; it means that banner ads will be shown on those threads that you contribute to. For most people, the benefit of being able to talk for free and have a community outweighs the fact that the forum might show banner ads. Now if the ads were targeted to what people were talking about, would you stop posting on that forum? A few people would object to that, I'm sure, but I think most people would still be happy to keep posting. That's just my quick take on it though. In my experience, most emails haven't shown an ad, so it's a little like getting the forum for free, but occasionally a thread will display AdSense ads.
| 6:19 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|I'd agree with that, pleeker. If you think of it as AdSense for email, that helps to clear up some of the confusion. In the same way that AdSense targets an ad based solely on the content of a page, the ads in Gmail are based on the content of that one email. |
Fair enough, GG, and it's a valid comparison. But make sure your PR guys (other than you!) realize that everyone uses email ... and very few (comparatively) use or have even heard of AdSense. It's got to be put in terms that Gmail users, and the public in general, will understand.
| 6:23 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"GG has the chance to become the Dick Clarke of Google"
I truly don't know if I should take that as a good or a bad thing. Oh, wait.. you're not talking about Dick Clark, the guy who rings in the New Year every year. :) Responding to pixel_juice a little bit, I remember when AdSense rolled out, most people were happy to see a new option in that advertising space but a few people had concerns. As more people got to take AdSense for a test drive, people saw that even though it was a type of advertising targeted to what you were seeing right then, it was useful and certainly better than an annoying "punch the monkey" banner ad in the same spot. I think most people that get to play with Gmail will see that it can be useful in the same way. I'm looking forward to more people playing with Gmail because I think it will help to answer many questions that people have.
| 6:30 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
GG I do you a diservice perhaps I should have said.. Dr Rice.. judging by the stout defence of her boss she gave today.
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