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GMail being challenged

on privacy grounds:

I'm sorry, even though I'm pretty sensitive about personal privacy...
- It's free
- This is the established policy since day one
- It's being done openly
- There are plenty of other options

I don't think an *existing* freemal provider should *switch* to this kind of setup*, but doing it from the outset? Not really an issue, IMHO.

[the opinions stated are those of the poster and do not reflect the opinions of Microsoft, Corp]

*My advice to an existing provider that wanted to copy GMail - offer a differentiated class of freemail service, like more storage or a better interface, but keep the "nontargeted" service in play.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Ok, so from what I can gather, this senator's strategy is as follows:

1. Read about a phenomenal new email service, which is FREE and doesn't append advertising to outgoing messages. (But it shows ads to the user. Text only. With a higher chance than usual of being relevant, since a computer somewhere did some keyword matching.)

2. Immediately jump on the 'privacy issue' bandwagon.

3. Send a letter to the company offering the email service, presumably about said privacy issues.

4. Without waiting for a response to #3, introduce legislation to ban this new email service.

Uh, ok. Yeah, that makes sense. Sure.

Remind me not to vote for this woman (if I ever happen to move to her district).

Monday, April 12, 2004

Seems to me Google has complied with all parts of the relevant Crunchy Frog Law.  So let them do as they advertise ...

Monday, April 12, 2004

See the "feedback" link on the left here to correct her.

Monday, April 12, 2004

If it was a choice between any ad, or context-sensitive ads I know which one I prefer.

Hotmail usually tries to make me click on advertising online job listings, womens magazines, and so on. For the last week (Australian users) they have been pushing sexy lingerie. Try and sell me something I might actually want to buy and maybe they will actually entice me to click on the ad.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Google's US problems seem no worse than with countries like China.  This is part of their job, dealing with relative ethics, and I hope they see it as very interesting.  As a fairly "progressively social" company, I think they would be disturbed if people didn't take an interest and open their privacy policy to public debate.  This is apparently the company Google WANTS TO BE.

The internet is increasingly driving the need for international gov't.  Basically the UN's killer app.

One problem is Google's servers fall under US jurisdiction, so our laws can threaten the privacy of non-US citizens when authorities demand personal information.  This information will then be stored indefinitely with a less stringent privacy policy.

"Because we keep back-up copies of data for the purposes of recovery from errors or system failure, residual copies of email may remain on our systems for some time, even after you have deleted messages from your mailbox or after the termination of your account."

They should probably put an upper bound on the duration of information.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Oh yeah, instead of legislation, encryption could be promoted.  Sending messages privately is a known problem.  Of course, a different set of politicians would then start complaining if governments promoted encryption for daily use.  (And it is not clear encryption methods actually work, though any org that has broken them would try being a little selective...)

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"And it is not clear encryption methods actually work,"

You should let those thousands of crypto professionals know your secret, since they've got a significant portion of the mathematics community convinced they do...


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

After you tell your boss that those same thousands of professionals have an impossibility proof of the "factorization of large prime numbers."

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

But you do have to ask one thing - what would people say if MS hotmail started this new service? Would we be so willing to give them the benefit of the doubt? It seems like Google is the golden boy of the internet and can do no wrong.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

See my original post - part of the deal is that they're doing it out of the gates. If an existing freemail service wanted to *change* to this model, IMHO that would be very, very different.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I don't care if they serve targeted ads, but I do care that they might be flagging my email, or otherwise harvesting my data.

If, for example, an advertiser can know that SOMEONE talks to their friends about VIAGRA or PENIS ENLARGERS, that's one thing. It's quite another if advertisers know that MarkTAW talks to his friends about it, and his address is at....

If it's the former, it's about the same as sending "anonymous usage statistics" and as long as you read the terms & policy, then it's your responsibility to sign up or not with them. If it's the latter, than I have issues.

Do they have the same disclaimer as Orkut - we won't use your data, but can't gaurantee our policy wont change if we sell of Orkut to another company? Then I'd be worried.

Interestingly, even the former "anonymous usage statistics" model could be VERY interesting to potential advertisers. Knowing top search terms is one thing, but knowing top phrases in email is a whole other level of Orwellian advertising.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I'm the biggest privacy freak I know, but I agree with MarkTAW on this ... I don't see any danger in targeting ads. The danger would come in if they stored information on which user got which ads. If Google does that, then I believe this is a privacy problem, regardless of whether it's the rule from day 1.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

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