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Gmail: Orwell meets Monty Python

Gmail's gotten a lot of heat for its idea to scan email message contents and display ads corresponding to the keywords found.

While many have commented on the 'Big Brother' aspects of this, here's one view with a more comical perspective: http://starbulletin.com/2004/04/11/business/brandao.html

Gmailer
Friday, April 30, 2004

Nicely done!

BTW, if anyone here cares to defend GMail against some "police state" or "4th Amendment" crap, please remind the speaker that while Google seems all-powerful, they're not the government, and private entities are free to contract to provide whatever services they like.

...and consumers are free to not use them.

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 30, 2004

Philo Writes:

>BTW, if anyone here cares to defend GMail against some "police state" or "4th Amendment" crap, please remind the speaker that while Google seems all-powerful, they're not the government, and private entities are free to contract to provide whatever services they like.

...and consumers are free to not use them.

Coming from someone who works and shills for Microsoft..it is no wonder you think that way....otherwise it would be hard to defend behavior like this : http://www.computerbytesman.com/privacy/wmp8dvd.htm

By your twisted logic I can create a website which provides a "service" of storing your ATM card number and PIN and that should be OK as longer I do not force anyone to use it.

This does not mean that GMail is on the same level but people have a legitimate need to know and comment on the privacy aspects of GMail especially if one wants them not to go the way of Microsoft

Code Monkey
Friday, April 30, 2004

People are (apparently) already selling their Gmail beta accounts on ebay. Buy yours today! :-)

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?query=gmail

runtime
Friday, April 30, 2004

"Coming from someone who works and shills for Microsoft"

Please see the discussion about siderailing discussions with silly epithets at the 8th post at
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=132078

Where I work has absolutely zero to do with the fact that Google is not the government, so neither the word "constitutional" nor the phrase "police state" apply. That was my only point.

Have a nice weekend,
Philo

Philo
Friday, April 30, 2004

"By your twisted logic I can create a website which provides a 'service' of storing your ATM card number and PIN and that should be OK as longer I do not force anyone to use it."

He's right!  And I'm sure he's making a point somewhere with this example, but it escapes me.

If the USPS were reading my mail, that would be a different matter, because I have no other reasonable way to send (paper) mail; there are no competitors.  But Gmail _already_ has competitors, so I really don't get the hysteria, other than that passing oneself off as a raving "privacy advocate" is a good way to get one's name in the news.

Kyralessa
Friday, April 30, 2004

"Coming from someone who works and shills for Microsoft"

that is an entirely unfair characterisation of Philo, and it is also a point which is entirely irrelevant to this conversation.

"By your twisted logic I can create a website which provides a "service" of storing your ATM card number and PIN and that should be OK as longer I do not force anyone to use it."

absolutely, as long as you are absolutely clear about what you are storing and how you use the information then wheres the harm?


"This does not mean that GMail is on the same level but people have a legitimate need to know and comment on the privacy aspects of GMail especially if one wants them not to go the way of Microsoft"

Philo was not saying anything to the contrary you drooling, moronic fool.
Philo simply made a single statement of fact.

I mean, come on, if you dont like Philo...fine, if you dont like Microsofts practices then fine, but if you _really_ want to make your point you should probably avoid sounding like a witless dullard.

FullNameRequired
Friday, April 30, 2004

Philo, you are 100% correct.

I have a Hotmail account for personal use, and I'm tired of the over-worked interface and ad-intrusive functionality.

As soon as Gmail is publicly available, I plan to switch away from Hotmail. I don't care if they present ads to me on the basis of my mail content, I'm making a value-decision that increased storage and a clean user interface is worth more than "privacy" of my mailbox.

I quote "privacy" because there is no guarantee of privacy with ANY hosted mail service. Any sysadmin can read your mail, any sniffer between mail servers can intercept at least part of your messages. I don't really care.

After all, if you are REALLY concerned about the privacy of your messages, encrypt them and send the encrypted files as attachments.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Friday, April 30, 2004


Sometimes Google's "context sensitive" ads can be comical.    I sometimes read rec.aviation.soaring on Google Groups.  About half the time, the ads are for the type of 'glider' that is really an armchair.    I'm pretty sure its flying characteristics are crap...

Craig
Friday, April 30, 2004

What an idiotic comment Philo!
When somebody says "I don't want a Police State"
It means he doesn't want tyranny!
It matters little to the logic of the statement
whether the tyranny is government imposed
or (partially) privatized!

If you think that's freedom, you should try living
in Iran, it's definately not a Police State by your
definition!

The Hezbollah man who shoots you in the streets
if he doesn't like your clothes is "officially" just a
private citizen. He isn't "officially" anything at all to
do with the Government and may even be breaking
Parliament's regulations. He probably isn't even
"officially" a member of Hezbollah!

People are complaining about their email being
snooped on, and at that not by a single other party,
but by a very rich and powerful organization. This
definately has "Big Brother" potential.

I would definately be worried by the abuses that
could be committed in such a setup if said
organization were not Google, but your obnoxious
and provenly (on many occasions) criminal employer,
which is why I don't use Hotmail

Look on The Register for the
"All your Biz Plans are Belong to us" article.




Mu
Saturday, May 01, 2004

"It matters little to the logic of the statement
whether the tyranny is government imposed
or (partially) privatized!"

yeah, Ive always been uncomfortable with the fact Philo pointed out for exactly that reason.

also because its eminently possible (and happens now) for the government to hire private companies to do the snooping in the first place.

IMO both free speech and privacy need to be supported and enforced at every level of society for them to last....and that includes private companies.

OTOH Philos statement was one of accepted legal fact in america, not necessarily one that reflected his own thoughts on the matter.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, May 01, 2004

"also because its eminently possible (and happens now) for the government to hire private companies to do the snooping in the first place."

Hire? Hell, as long as the PATRIOT ACT is in place, they don't have to hire anybody. They can raid absolutely any private database under the guise of "assistance with terrorism", and whoever gets raided is prohibited for saying that it happened. And let's be honest here: AG Ashcroft is easily the most frightening individual ever to sit in the chair (even moreso than Janet Reno, which a hell of a feat). He has no problems bending and breaking every rule and law in pursuit of whatever he feels is justified.

It was pretty big new whens some libraries in California (?) decided to stop keeping long term book borrowing records. The government was very interested to know who reads what, since some books are "trigger" books for terrorists. The libraries basically said that they're shredding the records once the books are returned, until the PATRIOT act is repealed.

So, if you're the paranoid type, then EVERY SINGLE COMPANY WITH ANY BRANCH IN THE US is also an arm of the US government.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, May 01, 2004

Dear Mu,
              Are you sure that Hezbolah operates within Iran; although Iranian backed I thought it was restricted to Lebanon. And as I've stayed in hotels right on the dividing line between the Hezbollah and Druse sectors of Beiruit and seen  churches, pubs and brothels in both I am surprised that they would go after clothes.

            Are you sure you are not confusing Hezbolah with the Revolutionary Guard. Adn if you are, I think you will find that they have definite backers within the Iranian power structure. Exactly the same can be said for the Saudi Mutaween.

            A fairer analogy would be to consider the influence wielded by Baptist Churches in the South of the USA.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 01, 2004

"When somebody says "I don't want a Police State"
It means he doesn't want tyranny!"

Do me a favor and go look up "tyranny"

Then let me know which definition means "having a large number of alternatives and being open and honest about one's practices."

Philo

Philo
Saturday, May 01, 2004

This is soo funny. The comparision with Iran is just pathetic. You people come from a country who invades privacy of the rest of us and have laws which basically means you can seize and arrest anyone because of "domestic or foreign terrorism", which is an arbitrary term right now dictated by the bush-powell junta.

It's from the same country who considered communists illegal less than fifty years ago. And, it seems, the heritage lives on...

Anyway, I'll sign up for GMail as soon as I can. If some robot scans my program, it's at least sincere.

Sorry for the bad spelling...

Coward!
Saturday, May 01, 2004

"the bush-powell junta"

In fairness to Colin Powell, he's mostly a dove. He's gone along with things, but mostly unwillingly, presumably so he doesn't abruptly end his political career.

The drivers behind the war in Iraq are Bush and Cheney, not Bush and Powell.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, May 02, 2004

Second idiotic comment Philo.

You'll find the definition that says "Having your mail
and phone calls monitored by Big Brother, who can
coerce you with the information he has gained and
thus subtract from your freedom".

So why don't you look up "Blackmail".

The point that you have a large number of alternatives
is irrelevant, because they are all detrimental except
for the one you are blackmailed into taking. The method
used to coerce you, whether it be interior ministry
troops, or blackmail, is irrelevant.

The point is that you are being controlled by a Tyrant.

And as for mentioning "honest" and "practices" when
defending Microsoft, well that's your third idiotic
comment.

Mu
Sunday, May 02, 2004

Dear Stephen,

There is more than one group named "Hezbollah".

The Iranian one is one of several groups packed with
the Revolutionary Guards' buddies.

These groups don't wear uniforms and aren't officially
"Governmental". They take orders direct from the
mosques, not from Khatami.

When these thugs stab student demonstrators and
defenestrate them, they are supposedly
"unknown rioters".

The "Official" agencies controlled by the hardliners
are always very slow to investigate cases involving
them...

Mu
Sunday, May 02, 2004

Dear Mu,

I suggest you seek some anger management. Philo's comments are quite well-founded. You might not agree with them - but that doesn't make them idiotic.

If you have a large number of alternatives that are all corrupt, you can still opt to choose none of them. If you use GMail, you're entering a contractual relationship with them - you *allow* them to read your mail and send you ads in return.

You are *not* entering that relationship with your government - you're *forced* to abide by their laws and rules. That's why there are stricter guidelines for governments. (Or at least should be)

If you subscribe to GMail and think Google is a Tyrant, you're acting foolishly. You're entrusting your mail to an authority you distrust. The point is - you did it *wilfully*. Nobody can force you to use Google.

As for your insults against Philos employer - what exactly does that have to do with *anything* regarding GMail?

Robert 'Groby' Blum
Sunday, May 02, 2004

Hi Mu,

"And as for mentioning "honest" and "practices" when
defending Microsoft, well that's your third idiotic
comment."

actually Philo did no such thing in this thread...hes only posted twice and in neither case did he even mention microsoft

oh...and in the spirit of your posts I think Ill throw in a little bit of personal abuse.

wouldn't you be more at home on slashdot you repulsive little anthill? 

frankly I find the thought of someone as stupid and illogical as yourself entering the computer industry rather scary :)

maybe you should be a manager of some kind instead?  I suspect you will find you have a unique talent there.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, May 02, 2004

OK,

Maybe you folks should try to learn the meanings of the
words you use everyday.

"Insult" is when you call someone "repulsive little anthill"
or even "idiotic". If you say a statement is idiotic, that is
not an insult. You can't hurt the feelings of words on a
page.

"Idiotic" is actually a very good description of the
arguments Philo made, because they amount to
"Company Good, Government Bad", because this is poor
it is hardly even worth refuting. How again does this stop
the invasion of your email being Police-State like again?

Also, he was replying to a post criticising Microsoft, and
it is not an "Insult" but a matter of fact that they are
dishonest. That's what it means when you are a
criminal, when you break the law. This was reported by
the courts officially as a "Finding Of Fact", not a
"Finding Of Insulting Microsoft".

To make it clear for the slow ones among you, here is a
demonstration of an "insult":

FullNameRequired, Fuck Off to a thread
where you can keep up, you retard

Mu
Monday, May 03, 2004

>If the USPS were reading my mail, that would be a different matter, because I have no other reasonable way to send (paper) mail; there are no competitors.

What about FedEx and UPS?

The issue is that once Gmail is omnipotent...and it will be one day...hotmail and yahoo will either have to up the ante and compete with them on the same terms (which again means email scanning) which is scary considering the history of Microsoft and Yahoo on privacy issues OR they will basically get out of the free email business in which case Gmail becomes a de-facto monopoly. 

The argument that this does not matter since Google is not the governenment is ludicrous as the case with Microsoft has shown.

Code Monkey
Monday, May 03, 2004

>that is an entirely unfair characterisation of Philo, and it is also a point which is entirely irrelevant to this conversation

How is it a unfair characterisation?

Lookup Philo's replies on
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=123457&ixReplies=18 then tell me he does not shill for Microsoft

And the relevant point was in the link...which discusses provacy issues regarding Microsoft Media player

Code Monkey
Monday, May 03, 2004

"because they amount to
"Company Good, Government Bad""

no, they dont.  they amount to a factual statement on the current laws in america.


"How again does this stop
the invasion of your email being Police-State like again?"

because (a) you can choose not to use them and (b) keeping email private is _already_ a lost battle, they were not initially designed to be private and in most cases are entirely viewable at every mail server they pass through on the way to their destination.
If this bothers you the solution is the same as with gmail...either dont use email or encrypt it.


"lso, he was replying to a post criticising Microsoft"

LOL no, not really.  he was ignoring a post criticising microsoft.

" This was reported by
the courts officially as a "Finding Of Fact""

yep, that would be pretty interesting alright if this was a thread about microsoft.  its not :) its a thread about gmail and google.

"FullNameRequired, Fuck Off to a thread
where you can keep up, you retard"

yeah, best idea Ive heard all day.

just need to reply to code monkey and im out of this one....stupid flamefest.

FullNameRequired
Monday, May 03, 2004

"The issue is that once Gmail is omnipotent"

umm..what?  that feels like a stretch, they are just this company....

"which is scary considering the history of Microsoft and Yahoo on privacy issues "

wtf?  so dont use them if you dont trust them.  I wont be.  You can hardly blame google because you dont trust MS.

"The argument that this does not matter since Google is not the governenment is ludicrous as the case with Microsoft has shown."

thats a ludricous statement.  no one is telling you to use google.  you can walk away from using google at any time.

If it was the government then you might find things would be a little harder to workaround.



"then tell me he does not shill for Microsoft"

umm...what?  he only made one post in that thread as well.  it was a simple list of all the openoffice blah blahs in whatever time period.
thats _it_?  thats all you got?

either way Im outta here, enjoy yourselves people.

FullNameRequired
Monday, May 03, 2004

>umm..what?  that feels like a stretch, they are just this company....

Yeah right...."Google" is "just this company" :-)  What next...Walmart is just the mom & pop shop next door I guess!


>wtf?  so dont use them if you dont trust them.  I wont be.  >You can hardly blame google because you dont trust MS.

>no one is telling you to use google.  you can walk away from using google at any time.

Right! The same argument which Microsoft made...."Users are free to use BeOS anytime!".  And the court of law found that  to be a ludicrous argument and ruled so...for the precise reason that Microsoft has a de-facto monopoly and they abused it. Many of us do not want google to go that way...understand?

Go lookup http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/GmailLetter.htm and change your name to "ClueRequired" in case you still can't.

>If it was the government then you might find things would be a little harder to workaround.

You are confusing free speech issues with privacy rights....there is no "workaround" to your privacy rights if they have been compromised.



"then tell me he does not shill for Microsoft"

umm...what?  he only made one post in that thread as well.  it was a simple list of all the openoffice blah blahs in whatever time period.
thats _it_?  thats all you got?

either way Im outta here, enjoy yourselves people.

Code Monkey
Monday, May 03, 2004

god help me.  I cant resist.

"Yeah right...."Google" is "just this company" :-)  What next...Walmart is just the mom & pop shop next door I guess!"

well, no.  Here in New Zealand for instance (I _am_ american just happen to live elsewhere for a while) Walmart doesn't even exist.
So its not even that.  get a sense of perspective dude.

""Users are free to use BeOS anytime!"."

not to rehash that argument but personally I use a mac, I also have a pc running redhat next to me and another running winxp.  so off-hand Id say that particular argument was bang on track. 
Having said that _please_ dont lets turn this into a rehash of that tired argument...there is no doubt in my mind that MS was guilty of abusing its power, it just so happens I dont agree with some of the specific points made by anti-MS fanatics. (FWIW I agree entirely some some other points made by those same fanatics)

"Go lookup http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/GmailLetter.htm and change your name to "ClueRequired" in case you still can't."

that tells me that a staggering number of people are clueless on how email works in the first place.  Email is scanned already by isps and governments for virusi, for references to a deep desire to blow up the queen and for various other reasons.
That scanning is reported but not talked about much and because of that entirely ignored by privacy 'experts'

<g> now google states their intention of scanning peoples email openly for a specific purpose and suddenly they are the bad guys.

Ill say it again, Email is a unsecure method of communication, if you dont like that you can either (a) not use it or (b) encrypt it.
The same goes for gmail....it was _always_ going to be an unsecure method of communication, because email _is_ an unsecure method of communication.
Whether they can it for the purposes of displaying contextual ads or not, its _still_ an unsecure method of communication.

and the sooner people understand that and begin using encryption the better IMO.

go google :)

FullNameRequired
Monday, May 03, 2004

The GMail controversy puzzles me: I have yet to hear anyone call an anti virus program a police state. Indeed, it is a program that scans your mail, just as Google wants to.

Jonas B.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Dear Mu,
              It seems to me that you are confusing the Revolutionary Guards with Hezbollah. Every reference I check confirms that it is a Lebanese and not an Iranian party, even though it was orignally sponsored by Iran. A reasonbable overview is here
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1908671.stm

An interesting sideline is that the Saudi Arabian censsorship blocks access to the Hezbollah home site, but not to any number of junk Zionist and American neo-con sites describing them. Rather like the American government blocking access to Chirac's home page but allowing access to articles about him from Bin Laden and the Unibomber.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Dear Stephen,
You are getting the Lebanese organization
with the same name because it's more famous.
Try searching for "lebas shakhsi".

Mu
Monday, May 10, 2004

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