Google knows what’s in your Gmail before you do and sought to have this fact erased from the public record

“Back in February, in a San Jose courtroom, a bombshell was dropped that could have been erased from the public record,” Thomas R. Burke and Jonathan Segal report for USA Today. “t turns out that Google, which bases its business on collecting and analyzing huge reams of data for advertising purposes, has been scanning users’ emails even before users have a chance to open or read them, including email messages that are deleted without being opened. Google knows what’s in your email before you do.”

“The revelation came in a now-settled legal dispute over Google’s Gmail service. Dozens of the nation’s largest newspapers and media companies fought to make sure that the case — and its wide-ranging implications for Internet users — received a full public airing,” Burke and Segal report. “Google tried, and failed, to redact information about its email scanning process from a transcript of a public court hearing. Last month, the judge in the case ruled that portions of the transcript from that February hearing could not be redacted retroactively, since that would be tantamount to closing a public courtroom.”

“We now know much more about how Google collects personal information from users of Gmail and Google Apps,” Burke and Segal report. “As the plaintiffs explained: ‘Google made a choice. They said, you know what, when people are accessing emails by an iPhone, we are not able to get their information. When people aren’t opening their emails or they are deleting them, we are not able to get their information. When people are using Google Apps accounts where ads are disabled, we are not able to get that information. When people are accessing Gmail through some other email provider, we are not able to get that information. So what they did is they took a device that was in existence already and operating just fine back in the storage area, and they moved it to the delivery pipeline.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: At this point, seeing .gmail as someone’s main email account screams “noob!” even more than those who still use .aol.

If you don’t already, we highly recommend using iCloud Mail. More info here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

36 Comments

  1. Bombshell? More like drifting feather. This is the entire point of gmail — to scan all email as it goes through their servers and then post relevant ads. Who’s the noob who wrote this article? Grandma, is that you?

    1. So when a few starlet’s accounts get broken into by social means over the course of several years it is a major outrage and travesty that Apple did not protect them from themselves. But, when Google purposely invades your privacy to mine your emails (spam or real) even before you read them, then it’s nothing to talk about?

      Just because YOU know Google does that (and like many of us probably don’t use gmail), does that make it OK?

      If I tell you that as your landlord I’m going to go through your home on an hourly basis looking for data to sell to advertisers and then do it, then that’s OK? You are renting from me. It’s my house! I told you I was going to do it. I’m the landlord. I can come in any time I want to, right? I can go through all your personal, private stuff to find what I need, right? I can sell that personal information about you to any others I want, right?

      People who are outraged at Apple for the events of this past week but still use gmail have their priorities all screwed up!

        1. Yes, and it’s my business plan as your landlord to do everything I described. It’s all detailed in that 105 page lease you signed.

          Does that make what I’m doing as your landlord OK? Do I get to go through ALL your personal effect any time I want just because it’s in my business plan and in your lease?

          Does the fact that it’s an integral part of Google’s business plan (and likely spelled out in the fine print in the End User License Agreement, but maybe not) make it OK?

          What you’re missing is the simple fact that mining someone’s personal information without their *explicit* and *knowing* agreement is just plain wrong.

          If as your landlord I tell you I’m going to open your snail mail in your mailbox (forget for a moment that this is 100% illegal in the U.S. — as it should be with email) and sell the information within that mail to the highest bidder, Is that OK without your approval each time? Without that *explicit* approval it is impossible for you to know what information about you I’m selling to the world.

          If a friend sends an email to you and comments about your latest run in with some sexually transmitted disease (for example, you found out you have AIDS by getting testing done at a free clinic that does anonymous testing, and your friend is just trying to lend moral support), then Google is perfectly all right selling that information to drug companies, medical facilities, and such for them to do targeted marketing to you? It’s OK for those drug companies, medical facilities and such to have your name and personal details in their data bases along side the fact that you have AIDS?

          AND, is it OK for Google to sell that information to your insurers who might change your rates because of this? Since your friend sent the email (even if you never got it or deleted it accidentally without reading it so you have no idea what it said) and detailed your medical events, it does not come under federal law protecting medical information. So it’s OK for Google to sell that information to your detriment?

          Now, let’s take it one step further. You don’t have AIDS, the test was a false positive. You went back and got tested three more times and each of those three subsequent tests show you do not have AIDS. It took you a week to get the other tests and a couple more days to track down your friend and tell him/her that you absolutely do not have AIDS. However, Google has already sold information to the world that says you have AIDS based upon a simple, supportive email from a dear friend who rushed to your side (in an email at least) trying to be the best friend possible. Now you have to fight with your insurance company, medical groups calling you, and so forth. All because Google decided to sell your personal information that they gathered from reading your emails.

            1. Yes, bravo, exactly, exactly why anyone with an ounce of intelligence stays away from Gaggle and all of their products; your privacy is what you give up to use them. Caveat emptor.

  2. Brazen violations of privacy like this should be of major concern to the ” privacy seeking and concerned” media that just rear at the bit foe Apple FUD.

    Yeah, trust googles fools

  3. All of you freetards using Gmail have been warned. You’re not a customer of Google. You’re their product. Even the “business” email service that Google hosts is a total scam. It’s running on the same servers that host the free service. I’ve been working with an awesome hosting provider for several years. They don’t collect data. They don’t spy on their customers, and they offer awesome customer service and tech support.

  4. It has been said before: If you’re not the customer, you are the product.

    Anyone who entrusts their personal to Google might as well be taking nude selfies with their iPhone. It’s just a matter of whether the company will disclose your data for their own goals (Google), or let someone else expose it through laxity (Apple).

  5. Next the ailing post office will decide that the way to save the service is to sell ads by gathering information from a reading of your personal letters, eIc. Privacy is becoming a pipe dream.

    1. 1. Pay for your own e-mail service. You can do this easily by obtaining your own domain name and web site through many host services who charge just a couple $ per month. Read the user agreement to make sure the service is private and secure.

      2. DO NOT send even remotely sensitive e-mail to a G-mail account because Google scans all mail on their servers from both the source and recipients. There is no reason to believe that your information is private if you send it to a G-mail account. There is no reason to believe that Google doesn’t use this information to add to both parties Google profiles. Tell the non-recipient that you will not e-mail them because their e-mail is being scanned by Google.

      3. Even if you avoid Google, if your recipient forwards your email to a G-mail account it will still get scanned. This was found to be “legal” in an earlier court case in a mid-west courtroom.

      4. For much more secure e-mail set up your account(s) with public/private encryption keys and then choose to encrypt your private communications. Both parties have to do this but it is inexpensive (or free) and easy.

        1. If you obtain a “personal certificate” and use it to set up your e-mail then attachments are verified and encrypted along with your e-mail. You can use separate software, such as Stufit or zip utilities, to encrypt attachments to non-encrypted e-mail, or attach them to your protected e-mail and get double encryption.

          Setting up your e-mail with a personal certificate is fairly easy and then pretty much just works in the background to verify incoming and outgoing mail, decrypting incoming mail from trusted sources, and it is easy to “check the box” to encrypt out going e-mail.

          True, there is nothing that is absolutely secure, but using G-mail verses a private e-mail account with a personal certificate is about equal to pinning dollar bills to your front lawn versus putting them in a bank vault.

      1. Email is never secure. Full stop. Even if you use the most private and secure email provider, any message you send can be compromised by your ISP, your recipient’s ISP or service provider, or anyone who that message is forwarded to. Encryption is possible but it’s such a complicated mess that few people use it.

        Ultimately you should realize that email is in no way secure, and therefore you should never send anything via email that you wouldn’t want getting into the wrong hands.

  6. It’s always fun to trash Google and its services but unfortunately when it comes to email, it’s not that simple to find a suitable alternative. Care to write an article on this topic (instead of just commenting on other site’s articles)?

      1. I agree. But I prefer it all in one ecosystem, and no ads and scanning are awesome. Apple comes out regularly about how take their customers’ privacy seriously. I tend to believe that over Google and Schmidt.

        1. Believe me, you’re preaching to the choir when it comes to Google. Gmail is the last remaining vestige of Google in my ecosystem and I very much want to get rid of it.

          I’m just dreading the idea of having to change my email address for all the accounts that currently use my Gmail address, I’m also not looking forward to importing my old emails into iCloud Mail (yes, I’m a packrat when it comes to email and I have messages going back to 2005 which comes in handy now and then.

    1. One little catch with switching to iCloud Mail… As of this moment Apple has not implemented 2 factor authentication for webmail. That means you (or someone posing as you) can attempt to log into your iCloud Mail account via the web, on any computer, and they will not be challenged by 2FA. This seems to undermine the benefit of 2FA implementation anywhere else.

      In response to the recent story, Apple is only now doubling down and adding 2FA to other systems including their webmail, but it hasn’t been set up yet.

      Although I’m sure Apple will complete the setup shortly as promised, this is the sort of thing that makes me uneasy about migrating to their email service. This should not have been an afterthought, nor should rate limiting the login for Find My iPhone.

  7. I would love to switch to regain my privacy but experience has shown me that apple hadn’t been commuted to maintaining one service.
    @me
    @ whatever
    I don’t want to keep switching and having to keep notifying everyone of the change
    It’s disruptive and time consuming
    If apple would commit to one service I would do it
    Maybe they have but I haven’t seen any guarantees of that
    There was even a service they cancelled way back when aol started
    I was part of that

    1. Not sure what you mean by “commuted to maintaining one serve,” but as someone who ponied up for a “.Mac” account, I can tell you that I still you “.mac” on my emails. I have the added flexibility of using “xxx.mac”, or “xxx.me”, or “xxx.icloud.” They all work.

      Nothing disruptive or time-consuming about it.

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