When using free digital services like Gmail, or doing anything on the web, it’s important to be diligent about your online privacy and what you share
Right now, Google is in some hot-water in regards to how they use your Gmail. Specifically, around what they do with your email after it’s sent and before it’s received. Now most people think that the only people reading their email is themselves and the recipient. In actuality, Google is digging through all of your email.
“We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.”
(I really hope you read through the entire TOS (Terms of Service), or at least skimmed it…)
Even still, I think what people are finding shocking is that Google is, in fact, going through email messages as well. They DID tell you they were going through “data it collects” but as it relates to online privacy, people probably think email is more than just data. *News flash* Those tailored ads that you ignore in the right sidebar, or those emails you ignore in your promotions tab, if you’ve switched to the new Gmail inbox, yes, Google is digging through your inbox as well.
Google’s defense is (and I’m paraphrasing) “we’re only trying to make your experience better”. But, I think the title of this CNET post says it best “You weren’t really expecting privacy, were you?”
To me, a Google user who is aware that my email isn’t sacred and deploys methods to protect certain messages, it’s just gangster (and completely opposite to its “Don’t Be Evil” slogan) that now Google is on some: “You really didn’t think you’re emails were safe, did you?”
Now, Google doesn’t have some dood (or team of doods) reading your emails word for word, but you better believe its programs are data-mining your messages, looking for stuff it can use to [quote]enhance your experience[/quote] (Yes, I did it like that on purpose).
“We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances apply…With your consent – We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google when we have your consent to do so. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information…”
Which brings me to my point: “Nobody is gonna look for you better than you”. Regardless if you’re using a free service (that doesn’t cost anything, but you ARE giving something up…your data). Or think you’re safe because you shell out a couple bucks a month/year to use a service in the name of more security, you have to be dilligent about the information you put out there.
The best practice that I regularly use as a validation when I do anything online is “What would happen if this were to get out?” If you’re not sure, don’t put it out there. Now I know that may be a hard rule, especially with email, where we assume our conversations are private. But as a result of this new issue with Google, and the whole NSA/PRISM thing a couple weeks back, there may come a time where your information may be used for something other than what you intended.
As a result of these recent revelations about online privacy, it should be somewhat clear that “Big Business” or the “Gubment” won’t have your best interests in mind when it comes to your information, so you might as well have you own best interests in mind when you check-in all over the place, put your kids photo’s online (something I personally need to be better about), or in Google’s case…hit send on that Gmail message.