Google Email and Scanning Scam

by HSG on Mar 23, 2017 in Articles from Software Fans

Like me, I believe most people go about their business never to give a serious thought about their assumed private correspondence when using Gmail to email friends, colleagues and business associates.  As it turns out, your daily banter may not be so private after all.  A recent article in Fortune Magazine, “Judge Rejects Google Deal Over Email Scanning” caught my attention and an immediate thought dominated my curiosity…Google email and scanning scam.  

 

In essence, the article describes Googles’ agreement to change the way it scans incoming messages so that it no longer reads emails while they are in transit, but only when they are in someone's inbox! So, what exactly does that mean? Judge Koh, a San Francisco federal judge, said she's not so sure about that. Her ruling claims the settlement does not provide an adequate technical explanation of Google's workaround, which involves scanning in-transit emails for security purposes, and then later parsing them for advertising data. The judge also proposed a legal settlement to pay $2.2 million to lawyers, but nothing to consumers.

My interest in this story is not so much about the proposed settlements or the specific details about how Google or any of the web giants settle claims based on vague legal language. It is however, more about the naiveté of myself and perhaps many others that never question how the email scanning process really works. I wonder, do most of us really care that Gmail uses contents of our mail to display targeted ads?

 

Here are some examples of people’s reactions on this on-going saga:

 

“If you're getting something for free then you're probably the product, not the consumer. Ladies night at the bar? No, you aren't drinking for free. You're the product being sold to the men. Free email? No, you aren't getting a service that millions are spent to develop and run for free. You're the product being sold to the advertisers, data conglomerates, and so on. So, in reality you have a very distinct, real-money recurring value. You may not be able to personally realize direct monetary income from it” …. Slashdot res ponder

 

“I don’t quite understand the legal reasons behind this case. What difference does it make on the order of ads scanning, whether it happens before or after it’s available to the Gmail Inbox, given that’s it’s inevitably going to happen regardless? The Verge, 

 

responder 

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