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May 28, 2004

California Senate Sends Gmail a Message

Posted 2 weeks, 1 day ago on May 28, 2004
The BBC reports today that the California Senate has passed SB 1822, aimed at limiting Google's ability to scan email coming in to the users of their Gmail system, and also limiting Google's ability to archive and sell the resulting information.

Now, Aunty is old enough to remember some real wholesale intrusions on privacy, and jaded enough to question anyone having obviously invasive powers, but there are a few things which occur to Aunty - maybe it's her doddering age, but:

1. Google is a business entity, not a government, for chrissakes. Business entities invade your privacy all the time, especially when you are availing yourself of their services - if you don't like it, don't sign up for their services. The reason that a private high school can perform a locker search, and a public school cannot, is because the public school is, arguably, a government entity. The reason that pretty much everyone and their dog now tell you, while you are on hold for 112 minutes when calling their customer service line, that "this call may be monitored for training purposes" but the nice men in the blue suits have to get a warrant to listen in on your conversations is because, again, the men in suits work for a government agency. The people who put you on hold do not. Deal with it.

2. Gmail is a voluntary service, and you'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not know at this point, before signing up for their free services (and did Aunty mention that it's voluntary?), that they scan your email for content in order to serve up their Adsense ads with your email. ("Would you like spam with that?")

3. Google is doing nothing different in terms of scanning email content than any one of dozens of spam filtering companies do - for which their users often pay them handsomely, not slap them with restrictive legislation.

But, on the whole, it's a really good thing that Ms. Senator Figueroa is spearheading this new law, because goodness knows that in the U.S., and in California in particular, we wouldn't want to break with tradition and societal culture know, make people be accountable and responsible for their own decisions. Oh no.

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Re: California Senate Sends Gmail a Message

Posted 22 hours, 7 minutes ago by Danny Goodman • • wwwReply

Thank you, Aunty! It's one thing if GMail were trying to sneak something past its users or if the world's email users were forced to use it, but now Google is being scorched left and right for being upfront about its intentions and tactics. This has been the most wasted expense of uproar in my recent memory.

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