Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Google Reading My Email?

Usually, I'm a big proponent of Google. Sometimes people talk about Google like it's some sort of Microsoft type software giant that needs to be broken up according to anti-trust laws. But I like Google. I think they put out quality products, provide excellent features, and still have a sense of humor.

Sure, let Google crawl my webpage or my blog... then maybe someone will read the dribble i scrawl across cyberspace. But that's ok because I'm posting that stuff out there with the intention that someone is reading it.

But what about your email? Do you think it's secure, and that no one reads it but you? Don't they encrypt it when they send it to the server, or to someone else's inbox? I don't know, but probably not. I doubt there's any RSA Public / Private key exchanges going on.

Well, stop by your gmail inbox, and read some of the advertizing along the right hand side. The ads are populated based on the text of your emails. This means that before your email is displayed, Google reads the text and queries some SQL server to pull custom ads to display on the side-pane. Perhaps that data is encrypted too? Doubtful. I'm just not to keen on the idea that Google is crawling my email... and eventually, I'll find some personal note published where any unsuspecting googler might mistakenly come across my information. My online order receipts... or my password reset notifications.

I know it's been this way for quite a long time... and it never bothered me so much. Not that I have a whole lot of real importance that I need to hide... but if I did, I probably wouldn't use gmail... or email at all for that matter.

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