August 16, 2013

Gmail Privacy Concerns


Maggie: If you use email to chat with your friends, there is probably at least one or two emails you would rather other people never see. But as Shelby Holiday explains, those private emails might be a lot more public than you think.

Shelby: What email service do you use?

Alan Golan: I use Gmail.

Sheree Obeso: Gmail.

Shannon Grodotzke: Gmail.

Shelby: With more than 400 million users worldwide, Google’s email service is one of the most popular in the world.

Alan: It’s just easy and most of the people that I know use it.

Sheree: I think a lot of my friends use Gmail. I mean, we do Google hangouts as well.

Shelby: But this week, some Gmail users were caught off guard by what some say is a stunning admission. In court documents released just this week, Google admitted it does not have to respect your privacy. The company says ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’ And that doesn’t just go for Gmail users, that is for people who send email to Gmail addresses as well.

Does it bother you or surprise you at all?

Sheree: Yeah, it’s surprising. I mean, Google is a very reputable company, and for them to not care about privacy is kind of surprising.

Shelby: To make their legal point, Google quoted a Supreme Court case related to emails.

Molly Wood: I, honestly, think that people were just really surprised to see, in black and white, a legal brief that said you have no expectation of privacy. I think that’s a phrase that is very inflammatory, and it made people feel a little uncomfortable.

Shelby: But it’s not like your personal emails are going to be read by the public, or even a Google employee. What it does mean is that your Gmail, Google searches and smartphone locations are probably being scanned and recorded by Google so that they can sell you ads.

Molly: But this is a fact of life about Gmail and any other free webmail service that you’re going to use. These are all businesses, and their business is not to give you free email.

Shelby: Google says it takes users’ privacy and security very seriously. But if you really want email privacy, experts say one option is to get your own private email service.

Amon Prasad: I can pay a little bit but I can have the peace of mind that it’s private and secure.

Shelby: But starting at $15 a month, those private email services can add up quickly over time.

Would you ever pay for an email service?

Alan: No.

Shelby: Why?

Alan: Because I just think that that’s taking a step backwards in the world of technology. I feel like a lot of what’s allowed the internet and online technology to flourish and succeed is the fact that a lot of it is free.

Shelby: Will you keep using Gmail in the future?

Shannon: Definitely. Yeah.

Shelby: You are not going to stop?

Shannon: No.

Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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