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from California legislator moves to block Gmail – News – ZDNet “A California state senator said Monday she […]

from California legislator moves to block Gmail – News – ZDNet

“A California state senator said Monday she was drafting legislation to block Google’s free e-mail service “Gmail” because it would place advertising in personal messages after searching them for key words.
“We think it’s an absolute invasion of privacy. It’s like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home,” said Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, Calif. ”


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  1. 1

    I’m not sure what the problem is here. Is Figueroa concerned that we’re all such suckers for online storage space that we’ll compromise our personal privacy morals for the sake of a gig? It sounds like Google is being pretty up front on this. Or have they reached utility status without my knowledge?

  2. 2

    I double checked the date when I read this on the train this morning. No it was not April 1st. This is a free country we still can choose our providers for e-mail, web hosting, search, and even choose our own ice cream flavor.

    If you do not like the e-mail service that puts ads in your e-mail, then don’t use it. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything here. Of the few companies that I trust, Google happens to be one of them and Yahoo is another. Yahoo has bee putting ads into my e-mail for years. Captain Crunch puts toys in its cereal.

    Google puts ads in e-mails that are relevant and I get 1GB of searchable storage for all this? Not a bad deal. Privacy concerns? Less with Google than the current administration.

  3. 3

    Knee jerk reaction? Perhaps. Stereotypical “Californians love to legislate?” Cheap shot, but okay. Infringement on consumer choice? Maybe- as long as Google is being upfront about their business model.

    Are they? I’m not sure. Since Gmail’s not available to the general consumer at this point, it’s premature to judge any small print obsfucation on Google’s part. But, this post was the first I’d heard about a business model that was based on crawling “private” e-mail messages to serve targeted ads. Of course, “duh” was the next thought that came to my mind- certainly a logical extension of their highly successful adwords program.

    What’s really interesting here is that no matter how misguided Figueroa’s bill may be, we are so off the map when it comes to public policy and how it addresses our modern technological world (look no further than the DMCA for evidence of how complicated things have gotten and how high the stakes have risen.) I’m not worried about Google having nefarious intentions with my e-mail (in contrast, the current presidential administration MAY have such intentions but are too inept to act upon them) but the fact remains, more and more of the aspects of our lives are contained within the private domain versus the public.

    Ask any self-respecting John Birch Society member what the role of the federal government is and he’ll tell you “national security and delivering the mail.” Nothing more, nothing less. Ironically, this second core function as seen by the most libertarian of libertarians has been replaced by mail delivered as 0’s and 1’s.

    Besides a few feel-good toothless spam laws, there’s virtually no regulation or government involvement in the communcations medium of choice for the 21st century. Snail mail, TV, radio, telephones, etc., all are subject to varying forms of government regulation to mediate between the supplier’s ability to realize a profit and the consumer’s right to basic protections.

    But e-mail? Nothing. Is this good or bad? I’m not sure- that’s up to all of us to decide.

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