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Google intends to deliver ads by analyzing what's being discussed. For instance, an e-mail from one friend to another talking about an upcoming trip might include links to hotels or airlines.
Gmail has a "definite creepiness factor," said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
"Consumers really need to look this gift horse in the mouth because it has rotten teeth and bad breath," said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a watchdog group.
The Gmail backlash has inspired Orwellian comparisons likening Google to Big Brother, a disturbing development for a privately held company committed to making money "without doing evil."
Its not that I think they have dark intent, but rather that they may have underestimated the reaction.
Most users of Yahoo mail and Hotmail think that their e-mail is more confidential that it actually is.
I suspect that Gmail will make people think that their e-mail is less confidential than it actually is.
Do those people think that there will actually be a person reading each message and assigning the right ads to it? The only thing that's creepy to me is how some self assigned privacy advocates are confusing issues here, and actually get primetime press coverage.
Before you go giving a response like "well then don't send any email to a person with a Gmail account," you should take into account:
1) with mail forwarders it is impossible to tell the ultimate destination
2) for business email there may be necessities to respond to email regardless of the source
Just as Microsoft owns the advertising inside a Hotmail account, Google will owe no publisher a cent for the AdSense ads that appear inside a Gmail account. If Google is planning on having dozens of millions of subscribers (like Yahoo and Hotmail) muliplied by more pages per subscriber due to larger storage, there may not be much advertising left over for content pages anyway, no matter how little they decide to pay the publishers.
Therefore, publisher anguish now would be meaningless to them.
I am not excited at all about Google showing my competitors when I reply to an email.
How would you like it if you sold something to someone for $100 and then sent a support email about it and they got an ad saying it was for sale for $10?
Or for that matter if you happened to have newsletters that you use for selling marketing space. I wonder what the CTR will be after something like this..?
As a regular user though, I must admit I couldn't personally care less .. it's not like I am transacting illegal things in my email or something. And it's not like email anywhere is encrypted..
That is an excellent point and very succintly stated.
Personally, I think the privacy folks are missing the point a bit. Auto-spidering doesn't seem to be that big of an issue to me. Keeping deleted mail on their systems, on the hand hand, is a huge deal.
As your point shows, though, I think there is another huge issue - that of intellectual property. How can Google even begin to think that is all right to use something I write to target ads without my permission.
Which indicates that I am betting that Google will add AdSense ads to your reply, even though there weren't any originally because you don't use GMail to send e-mail, but your customer/user does to receive it.
Google has positioned itself to be an "implicit tax" on all communication and knowledge exchange, more ubiquitous than the taxman himself. Unfortunately in this case, the ads could very well be taking customers away from you.
This will get ugly if they do indeed end up passing a fee per e-mail. Then those of us with e-newsletters and customer/user lists, may end up paying to e-mail our customers, only to have those GMail based customers taken away by AdSense ads, retro-fitted to our non-Gmail correspondence.
It's just like the affiliate commission theft going on with the ad blockers. Who owns your web page? Not the webmaster anymore but the browser displaying the page.
Who owns your e-mail? Not you any more, but the e-mail company processing your e-mail.