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Here's some

Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a “stunning admission.” It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.

“Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”

This reportedly stems from a lawsuit recently that accused Google of violating laws against "wire taps" in it's effort to snoop in your email to target ads at you, something that has been going on a long time with the giant corporation that USED to say "Don't be Evil".

In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making “an attempt to criminalize ordinary business practices” that have been part of Gmail’s service since its introduction. Google said “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”
Google then cites the example that the Post Office delivers a letter to a businessman and it is opened by the business-person's assistant or employee.

This line of rationalization was stomped on pretty good:

[Consumer Watchdog head John] Simpson, a long-term Google critic, said: “Google’s brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don’t expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it.
Metadata, such as when sent, where, sent how often something is sent from person a to person b, is one thing: Google is fully and systematically reading your e-mail.

I am unaware, at this point, what can be done to find some e-mail service that is more private - there may be none.

But I am now officially in search of a better email service. I hate targeted ads primarily because I don't like ads to begin with, but I really hate this idea that directing ads to me is a "service to me". It's not.

And it's spying on me. I don't need to be spied on, spying on me doesn't protect anybody, it doesn't solve a thing, it's a complete waste of time.

We need a Bill of Rights to protect us from intrusions of corporations, too.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Open to suggestions for better email providers (50+ / 0-)

    if there is such a think anymore, with those who were shutting down in the past week due to Federal Government arm-twisting.

    Perhaps the US government and corporations have tag-teamed the 4th Amendment to its literal death.

  •  Well now, yeah, now we know not to (6+ / 0-)

         expect privacy, but we didn't know that when we signed up.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:57:23 PM PDT

    •  You get what you pay for. (4+ / 0-)

      It is free so I always expected that there was going to be advertising.  There should be no expectation of privacy in any of our internet uses.   If you do not want your mail read then perhaps we need to go back to snail mail.

    •  A while back, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Azazello, Lujane, Just Bob

      there was a time when you could opt-out of Google's services. (Anyone else remember that?) I opted out, and I'm glad. Can no longer log-in to gmail or Picassa, so I guess they meant it. In my ~20 years online, I never expected privacy, though. Took me a long time to use Paypal and my bank!

      Google's really bad property is You Tube, though. Maybe people don't realize it belongs to them, or maybe there's no better choice, but we get links to it here all the time. (I paid smugmug $60 bucks for a year to allow hi-def video if I want, though.)

      Still don't expect privacy, but surely anything is better than Google, whose users are its product!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 06:31:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And this is why I don't use gmail (10+ / 0-)

    or Chrome.  It's bad enough that Google harasses me with targeted ads on IE.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:57:37 PM PDT

    •  Our area's largest hospital chain (7+ / 0-)

      will not let employees log into the hospital email intranet system if they have Chrome installed on their computer. Their IT department is extremely strict about that.  They have to be HIPAA compliant, and are unwilling to take any risks regarding Chrome or gmail.  

      All the more reason to have robust encryption on the entire hard disc and only send encrypted messages.

      Reviews of store-bought software.

      Reviews of best open source freeware.

      At this point, I don't trust any proprietary encryption software. With all the stuff coming out about companies selling out, I am personally concerned about "back door" keys that might be given to unknown entities. Open source is robust, easy to use and the price is right.

      Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

      by Otteray Scribe on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 05:23:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have deleted/uninstalled Chrome (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      now seeking better email.

      Will probably have to stick with gmail for my  work-related crap because that is the email I had been using.

      Unsure in my comcast email is any more secure because I actually pay for that - it's annoying and clunky...

      Maybe I just hate the planet I live on.....

      Why should a chicken have to answer questions just because it crossed the road?

  •  Not saying that it's a good thing, but... (15+ / 0-) exactly did people think that the AdWords/AdSense program worked in the first place?

    Of course it reads the messages; that's what determines the ads that get placed.

    Now, you could argue that there's a big difference between the software reading the messages and using it as part of the algorithm to generate the appropriate ads vs. a person reading it, but really, if the software is reading it, there's nothing to stop it from flagging certain phrases and alerting a human employee as well.

    •  I figured it had to do with one's chrome account (0+ / 0-)

      I didn't expect it to study every word in every email every time.

      TOS or not, that is excessive and I'm on a quest for a bit less intrusion.

      It seems very depressing to have to ditch all internet use.

  •  Unfortunately, at this point it seems naive (10+ / 0-)

    for anyone to actually expect privacy when on the computer (government/commercial surveillance), on the phone (same), in a car (license plate scanners, cameras, gps trackers) or walking around (cameras with facial recognition, drones, gps tracking on cell phones).  If you want privacy, you need to stay in your house with the curtains drawn and everything turned off.

    •  Except they also have infrared equipment... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, psnyder, Ree Zen

      that can see through walls. And listening devices that just need to have line-of-sight to a window. Sorry to breach your "inner sanctum". I may open a store front on Amazon or ebay selling tinfoil hats soon.;)

    •  Recommend this comment... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder, bygorry

      ...if you think that this systematic destruction of the 4th Amendment is going to have dramatic and very unpleasant unintended consequences for progressive and conservative social issues alike.

      Think, the end of Roe v. Wade. Think, a de facto gun registry.

      ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
      My Blog
      My wife's woodblock prints

      by maxomai on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:02:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it's still possible to have privacy (0+ / 0-)

      It's just a matter of becoming aware of the issue and building the systems to make it possible. Privacy wasn't as big of a concern before this recent NSA story broke, but I expect that to change.

      Also there are different levels of privacy - you can make it easier or harder for people to spy on you. By using services like Gmail, you know for a fact that you are making your information directly available to Google for advertising purposes, and to the U.S. government at a click of a button if they ever want it.

      On the other hand, the NSA didn't have access to Lavabit, the email service that recently shut down rather than comply with a demand to turn over their user data. And presumably if Lavabit had been based outside the U.S., there would have been little the NSA could do to obtain all their records at once.

  •  I don't know much about the series of tubes (6+ / 0-)

    works, but I'd think email is akin to a postcard.  its not sealed, per se, and when we want to seal our emails we have things like secure mailboxes.  factually, then, I'd think google is right.

    happy to be disabused of that, of course.

  •  I use gmail (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, psnyder, Lujane

    for the stuff that I don't mind people knowing about - if they want to read about genealogy or read ads, they can. I use a paid service for the rest, although I'd be surprised if that wasn't being read but the government. (I use an ad-blocker - I don't see the ads on gmail.)

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 05:24:55 PM PDT

  •  I've never thought email was private. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, psnyder, Lujane

    AOL got in hot water for reading email a decade ago and that should have told people that they all have the ability to read and/or monitor email content.

    "There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages." Mark Twain

    by sceptical observer on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 05:52:16 PM PDT

  •  Before you get too over excited about ebil google (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, Hey338Too

    consider this article...
    Press Suckered By Anti-Google Group's Bogus Claim That Gmail Users Can't Expect Privacy

    Okay, so as a bunch of folks have been sending over today, there's been a bit of a furor over a press release pushed out by Consumer Watchdog, a hilariously ridiculous group that has decided that Google is 100% pure evil. The "story" claims that Google has admitted in court that there is no expectation of privacy over Gmail. This is not actually true -- but we'll get to that. This story is a bit complex because the claims in most of the news coverage about this are simply wrong -- but I still think Google made a big mistake in making this particular filing. So, first, let's explain why the coverage is completely bogus trumped up bullshit from Consumer Watchdog, and then we'll explain why Google still shouldn't have made this filing.

    First off, you may recall Consumer Watchdog from previous stunts such as a putting together a hilariously misleading and almost 100% factually inaccurate video portrayal of Eric Schmidt, which was all really part of an effort to sell more copies of its founder's book (something the group flat out admitted to us in an email). They're not a consumer watchdog site -- they're a group that makes completely hogwash claims to try to generate attention on a campaign to attack Google.

  •  This is a surprise? (0+ / 0-)

    AFAIK this has been the legal standard for email since the 90s.

  •  If it wasn't for targeted ads (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pseudopod, duhban

    The net would be one big pay site.

  •  I use multiple emails and browsers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bekosiluvu, xxdr zombiexx

    I realistically have to have Gmail to subscribe to some groups in which I participate, but it is not my main email.  I maintain accounts on several other services, and I have to have an account for the school system's email.

    At any given moment I am likely to have at least two browser windows open.  I tend to use Chrome for most of my ordinary stuff, but keep certain applications only in Safari or in Explorer.

    Having spent 20+ years of my life in computers before becoming a teacher about 2 decades ago, I am well aware of the lack of security in much of what I do.   I am also aware that when I use a credit card or a discount card to shop, I am giving up information about myself.

    I have at time wrestled with the idea of encrypting some of what I do, but decided it is was not worth effort.

    I am used to being in the government's crosshairs - after all, I was active in civil rights beginning in 1963 (before the March whose 50th anniversary is almost upon us), having demonstrated against Vietnam in 1964 (before I enlisted in the Marines), having dated the daughter of the Bulgarian Ambassador to the UN, and with my fairly high profile online, not only here, but also at places like the website for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (gasp - a peace-oriented group that crosses both religious and national divides).

    I periodically get nasty tweets directed at me - leading in some cases to my blocking certain accounts - and I do get the occasional nasty email.  

    I also get on all kinds of email lists, including early on to most of the national tea party groups who seemed to think that because I was a blogger I would be sympathetic to them.

    I suppose I could forego discount cards for stores, and shop mainly in cash, but as soon as you do that (especially when the purchase exceeds several hundred dollars) it may actually be focusing attention on one.

    And it is impossible to make major purchases in cash without attracting attention.  Any cash transaction over 10K must be reported, so that rules out buying a car with cash, literally, with the  currency.

    And if you want to buy a house ....  even if you could suddenly show up with several hundred thousand dollars.  If doing it with a check in lieu of cash, you are already providing information that could leave to inquiries.

    It is unfortunately true that to participate normally in our current economic system we effectively give up a large amount of privacy.  

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 04:08:58 AM PDT

  •  huh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    well I will be monitoring this case and hoping that that was google putting it's foot in it's mouth and not seriously making the argument they sound like they are making.

    In the time that I have been given, I am what I am
    Shop Kos Katalogue
    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 04:21:04 AM PDT

  •  Of course. Its free for a reason. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx, jbob

    At least Google is pretty upfront about not giving a shit about privacy in return for free email and other services. Besides, it isn't YOUR email. It's Google's. Says so right in the TOS agreement.

    The analogy with the post office does NOT apply. When you send a letter, its your paper, your ink, your envelope, the postage is paid by you. With Gmail there is none of that. Its their server, their software, and you pay nothing. Why do you think you are entitled to privacy with their stuff?

    As I've been saying all along, the problem isn't NSA. NSA never read any individual's Gmail. They read Google's Gmail. The problem we have is data gathering and data ownership generally. Just focusing on the NSA is pretty weak and misses the much, much bigger problem.

  •  Yeah. For a few years now, a popular trend in (0+ / 0-)

    devices and software is that it "anticipates your needs" or whatever.

    I don't want my device to anticipate my needs, make suggestions, any of that crap.

    (A) I'll decide what I want to do next, thankyouverymuch.

    (B) What your app knows, Google knows, the NSA knows, everyone knows. So I don't really want my apps to know me all that well.

    It turns out that the skill set required to get elected is completely different than the skill set required to effectively govern.

    by VictorLaszlo on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 05:02:42 AM PDT

  •  Privacy in the days of the Interwebs (0+ / 0-)

    Gobdamnit, what sort of idiot still seriously expects any privacy when using the Internet? Solutions are so obvious, it makes my head hurt.

    1. If you have shady business to transact, do it face-to-face in realflesh mode. There is, ultimately, NO secure electric communications method.

    2. Learn to expect, that if you get regularly out-of-control drunk, there will be pictures of you on Facebook waving a red Solo cup with your pants around your ankles.

    3. Since we now know our government can spy on us everywhere, we must assume the level of privacy we may expect is zero.

    What then can we do? One finally must learn not to care about processes over which we have no control. Live your lives, try not to hurt others, and try not to be a dick.

    •  We need an updated legal system... (0+ / 0-) that recognizes that the reality of the modern age makes the Internet the post office and e-mail identical in function to letters.

      The whole legal system is a series of patches. The US Code needs to be stripped down, simplified, and made internally consistent. Fraud is fraud whether committed in person or in spam. Mail is mail whether it's sent by Pony Express or by SMS.  

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