400 million users utilize gmail for sending and receiving emails, including both companies and personal users. It is amazing how many people are dependent on gmail for their daily lives, from work, to school, to even just socializing. But, the company has stated in a trial obtained by consumer watchdog, that really the don’t offer their consumers as much privacy as many would believe when they send and receive emails from gmail.
In a court appearance where the company tried to dismiss previous consumer’s suits, their lawyers quoted a 1970s law in which consumers should not ever believe that a third party that has access to their information will not look at it or use it. In the trial, they did basically admit that they adhered to that law, feeling no obligation to really keep consumers’ information completely private, as well as saying that they are subject to following the PATRIOT Act, giving certain information to the US government if needed.
Not only does Google admit to not keeping users’ information completely private, they even warn customers in their terms of service and privacy policies, telling users that their information is subject to those other to the recipient and sender. Google’s President has even publicly said that if a user has something to hide, gmail and other google locations are not the correct place to do it. Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson believes that consumers should listen to Google and “take (Google) at their word”, not trusting their emails to be safe and secure through Google.
Gmail does use email information for various different reasons, including sifting through emails to find junk mail, advertising that is relevant for each user, and more. The reason that they use their anti-privacy really isn’t a malicious one, but nonetheless they do use it. For regular gmail users that just use the service for work and personal use, as long as you don’t have any information that is super top secret and like gmail, you are fine. There is no need to abandon gmail with these new reports, but there is no question that those with higher security needs should turn to other alternatives for their online mailing needs.
By Matt Balick
Insight Mag Correspondent