Thursday, August 15, 2013

Privacy and free browsers and e-mail providers

I've been reflecting on the Google case.  Anybody who thinks about the matter should conclude pretty quickly that you have to "pay" for the browser and e-mail some how or other.  And in the case of Google, you are paying by letting them suss out for their 3rd party advertisers what your interests are likely to be.  So Google wants to check your browsing habits to see what sites you are visiting.

Anybody who has looked up a question and suddenly noticed ads on the side bar that mirror the question matter has seen the results of the Google snooping ability.  This is especially weird for librarians, who are often looking up things we have no personal interest in. 

The same is apparently happening when you use their "free" Gmail e-mail service.  Again, they never announced this was the program, but I think a lot of users sort of figured there had to be some quid pro quo involved, and it had to do with the ads that make Google so rich.  The thing that is most unnerving about the revelations about Gmail is the depth of the "scanning." 

Alert readers may notice that the Blogger system on which this little blog appears is also powered by good ol' Google.  Can't say I'm feeling totally comfortable right now.  But I'm relying on the essential boring nature of my communications. 

Librarian camouflage?

The camouflage wedding dress above (wow!), is courtesy of a temporarily unavailable website,

Stunning Google Admission in Court on Gmail Lack of Privacy

The Guardian reports on a stunning admission Google makes in a court document about the lack of privacy for users of the Gmail system. filed a class action law suit, In re Google Inc. Gmail Litigation, Case No. 5:13-md-02430-LHK, which will be held before Judge Lucy H. Koh in U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA. at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 5. The complaint was sealed since it involved business practices, but a highly redacted version was filed publicly, and can be found here. And THIS is the Google motion to dismiss that is the source of the Guardian excited report.  The first argument is titled: 

"The Wiretapping Claims Fail Because

the Alleged Scanning Practices Are
Part of Google’s Ordinary Course
of Business as an ECS Provider"

I'd say that's pretty chilling stuff. Google says, "You can't sue us for cooperating with the NSA wiretapping because we already listen in to all your e-mail conversations as a matter of our business practices!

OK. That makes it all alright.  You go, guys.  Don't be evil.