Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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Google has been questioned for months because they scan user emails, monitor searches and the like. Privacy groups have been pressuring them to sort this out. The company was expected to assure users that they have privacy on Gmail. Instead, the company clarified that they do scan user emails.
Modified Gmail Terms of Service
Google has modified the Gmail terms of service. They now clearly affirm that the company does scan user emails. The terms state that Gmail uses automated systems to scan user emails and examine other content. Gmail does scan user emails, both outgoing and incoming. This means that non-Gmail user emails are also being inspected. The system that Google uses can also scan user emails that are in the company servers. Every Gmail account is open to this.
Google has explained that they scan user emails to prevent malware infection and spam mail. But they also scan user emails to provide their priority inbox service. In addition, their personalized ads rely on this ability to scan user emails, YouTube and Google search history, and Google profiles. But not all users want to have these extra services. Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock says that Gmail users should be able to disable them. This would give Google no reason to scan user emails.
Concerns about Gmail’s Ability to Scan User Emails
Google services like the education and business products have the option to turn ads off. But the setting that allows Gmail to scan user emails is not an option. It is this ability to scan user emails that has brought Google under criticism from privacy groups in the past. The company has been sued by educators for the practice. That Google services scan user emails appears to go against the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA protects student records, which are opened when Google services like Gmail scan user emails.
Gmail’s ability to scan user emails is a hot topic. But Google and its services have other practice that concern privacy activists more. Google has admitted that they do not believe users should expect to have privacy on their services, much like Facebook stated months ago. Google is into a lot of user information. They record data in Analytics, gather data from cookies, and generate user profiles from different Google services accounts.
Google collects and stores a huge amount of user data. This is very enticing to spy agencies like the NSA. It is also attractive to hackers and thieves. The data can be used to target users. Having all this data becomes even more dangerous because it can leak out. The new Google terms of service make it clear that Google will continue to scan user emails, account profiles and search histories. It is now up to users whether they will accept this and use the services or not.