bakedjake - 4:47 pm on Feb 12, 2013 (gmt 0)
Even though Google does this with the best intentions, and it may be true that humans aren't reading our mail in most cases, how can we know that?
Actually, it's been reported that the opposite may be true.
David Barksdale, a 27-year-old "site reliability engineer" with access to Google customers' private accounts, was fired after parents and children complained that he had used to the data to harass four minors, including a 15-year-old boy he had befriended.
Google engineer fired for snooping on emails [independent.co.uk]
The full version draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal e-mails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off.
Data Harvesting at Google Not a Rogue Act, Report Finds [nytimes.com]
From a technical perspective, Gmail is a great service. At the same time to be ignorant of the potential implications of a third party having access to your email and published, legitimate reports of employees of that third party reading others' email is at best unbelievably naive.
I've always wondered when the first court case will happen alleging that Company A disclosed confidential information to Company B subject to a confidentiality agreement, and Company B disclosed it to a unauthorized third party by virtue of using Gmail and it was discovered that an employee of Google read the email.
Not irrelevant here is the pot calling the kettle black aspect. MS pretends they do not scan my email for keywords, even though they do.
Scanning email for viruses and spam is a legitimate, industry accepted practice and has been for 15 years. You would expect Microsoft (indeed, any mail service provider) to do this, and arguably accuse them of negligence if they didn't.
Microsoft and Google have a very different culture of responsibility around user-data privacy. That's the important point.