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Mailbag: Thoughts on Gmail

May 06, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

* Readers weigh in on Google Gmail controversy

My recent article on Google’s new e-mail service generated lots of response. Here’s a sampling:

* One reader corrected a couple of points I made: “What you will get [in Gmail] is relevant text ads when you read that e-mail or a reply to it in the future. Do a search on Google, and look to the right. Those are the same text ads you will receive when reading your e-mail. You will not be spammed by companies – you will not receive a single e-mail because of an e-mail you send. You can delete your old e-mail. Google just doesn’t guarantee that it is deleted from backups they may have made of their system.

* “I agree with you. We don’t need more legislation to solve things. Let the market dictate whether Gmail survives. I won’t sign up for it. But maybe someone won’t care about privacy and will sign up for it. Your point should be the obvious one… but the obvious gets overlooked way too often.”

* “I also believe that this controversy is being overhyped. If a service provider decides to make such a process part of its terms of service then you have a simple choice: use it and accept it, or don’t use it.”

* “While I do not care for Google’s Gmail service, the hype and angst surrounding it are too much. I agree with you; if you don’t like it or agree with it, don’t use it.”

* “What about the privacy of the unwitting person who sends you e-mail on that account without realizing it is also going to Google?”

* “Strikes me that all e-mail is open to examination – unless one operates a pretty sophisticated encryption/PKI environment!”

* “Just like the TV has an on/off switch, so does Gmail.”

* “Nobody is forcing you to use it. And if Google is up-front about what it intends to do, how can people get upset about it?”

* “Unfortunately, there is a sizeable portion of the e-mail-using population that are not as aware of the full implications as you and your readers. They only see the word FREE and jump for it. Should we protect them from their own lack of understanding of the implications of what they are signing up for?”

* “I think there is some level of protection that should be provided. Google should make it more than evident that the e-mail on their system will not be private. It will be in the public domain and they will be free to use it for their own corporate benefit. If they make this disclaimer bold and loud enough, then that will be adequate, I think.”

* “Everyone should already understand that when you transmit your e-mail across the wire it can be intercepted and read very easily.”

Many thanks to the people who responded to the article.