Google's Email Service 'Gmail' Sacrifices Privacy for Extra Storage Space


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Copyright © 2004-2014
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Posted April 2, 2004

On April 1, 2004 the world's most powerful search engine, Google, soft launched it's new free email program, called Gmail. Consumers attracted by the extra server storage space that other free email services like Yahoo and Hotmail just can't offer, may not know that those benefits come at a high cost to their privacy. According to Google's Gmail Privacy Policy located at http://gmail.google.com/mail/help/privacy.html outines most of the tradeoffs for using Gmail. For instance:

  • "Residual copies of email may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account."
  • " We believe our cookies improve the quality of our services. If you prefer, however, you can reset your browser so that it refuses all cookies, or notifies you when a cookie is being sent. Although you will still be able to use some parts of Google, other parts of the site - including Gmail - may not be available if you refuse cookies."
  • " When you are logged into your Gmail account, Google will display targeted ads and other relevant information based on the content of the email displayed. In a completely automated process, computers process the text in a message and match it to ads or related information in Google's extensive database."
  • "Personal information collected by Google may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Google Inc. or its agents maintain facilities. By using Gmail, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country."

Google's Gmail Terms of Use at http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/terms_of_use.html also makes some alarming revelations about how user information may be used:

  • "You shall not, shall not agree to, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to . . . upload, transmit or otherwise distribute content that infringes upon another party's intellectual property rights or other proprietary, contractual or fiduciary rights or obligations" (ie: file sharing). "Violation of any of the foregoing may result in immediate termination of this Agreement, and may subject you to state and federal penalties and other legal consequences."
  • " Personal information collected by Google may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Google Inc. or its agents maintain facilities. By using Gmail, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country."
  • " As consideration for using the Service, you agree and understand that Google will display ads and other information adjacent to and related to the content of your email. Gmail serves relevant ads using a completely automated process that enables Google to effectively target dynamically changing content, such as email."
  • "In the event of termination, your account will be disabled and you may not be granted access to your account or any files or other content contained in your account although residual copies of information may remain in our system."
 
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