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Can I block message scanning?
Privacy issue with googlemail
geoffdance




msg:3821446
 10:13 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Googlemail claims that it does not read my emails. However, the GoogleAds offered me a map to a hotel mentioned in the body of the email. Is it possible to block this scanning (or reading as it rather seems to be)? To be honest, if not I think I'll go with another provider that doesn't so obviously read my content.

Many thanks,

G

 

jbinbpt




msg:3823724
 12:59 am on Jan 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Isn't that the whole point of Gmail? It's free. It you want to use their free service your email will be scanned for advertising revenue.

ergophobe




msg:3840461
 5:20 pm on Feb 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

And what provider would that be? And how would you know they aren't reading your emails?

When Google says they aren't read, they mean just that. Assuming that you believe Google, your letters are scanned for keywords, but they are not read by a person and the keywords are not indexed and logged. So only the ad serving machine knows what's in the letter.

If you look at what has happened in recent years with the Bush administration eavesdropping on telephone calls and emails running through the biggest providers in the country (and this applies if you're not American, but correspond with Americans), frankly Google eavesdropping is the least of my worries. AT&T and other huge DSL providers crumbled and gave in on this and allowed the NSA nearly real-time access to their email stream.

If you want your email to be private, get some PGP type of platform, use a desktop client only, and encrypt all your email and accept only encrypted email so that if someone quotes you and replies, you don't have your original letter resent in unencrypted form.

Otherwise, you have to ask yourself - do you believe what Google tells you who, by all appearances, have been pretty open and up front about this? Or do you believe AT&T who let all email passing through their servers (whether you were the sender or the recipient) get not only searched for keywords, but then flagged and sent to the NSA and put in their database specifically for the purpose of investigating your activities?

I'm not a particular Google fan and I'm not a particular tinfoil hat guy, but one should be clear about where the real frontlines are in the battle for online privacy and not be naive about email being safe just because it isn't displayed with contextual ads.

incrediBILL




msg:3840621
 8:20 pm on Feb 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

The only thing I would be concerned with is that contexual advertising programs that track both your surfing and emailing preferences combined could paint a broad picture of your "interests".

Besides, even if you maintain your own servers and email, like I do, it still doesn't keep your email out of 3rd party services that back up every single email you send because most of the people in the world doen't maintain their own email services.

No matter what you do, odds are somewhere your emails are permanently stored at Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or any other 3rd party mail provider.

Not trying to fan the tinfoil flames but free email is most likely archiving nearly everything you send regardless of your personal choice of email provider.

Some might not find the very interesting, but archives are far worse than some program analyzing your email because the archives make everything you ever send just a subpoena away from being seen!

The only way to be safe is to never send anything you wouldn't want anyone, and I mean ANYONE to ever read for any reason.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 8:23 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2009]

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