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back to article Google in NOT EVIL shocker: Bins student email ad scanning

Google has taken the astonishing decision to stay partly true to its founding promise after deciding to stop scanning kids' emails. Until now, Google automatically rooted through all users' mails so they could be targeted for advertising. But now Mountain View has decided to abide by its "don't be evil" maxim and stop the …

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Thank you Google

A sincere thank you. Believe it or not, that little top banner was annoying and mostly irrelevant to me. It also ate into my meager home bandwidth and made my browser unhappy as well. I am also enjoying the increase screen real estate.

So a sincere thank you.

Between that and decoupling the forced G+ connections, I have faith in you again.

Now about those search results...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thank you Google

"A sincere thank you Google for taking your dick out of my arse."

c'mmon have some respect for yourself.

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Re: Thank you Google

Is it just me or are some people dumb.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Google's "free" mail service is paid for by ads. They can target ads and show things relevant to the user or they can show random stuff.

I'd rather have targeted ads. I don't need penis enlargement pills or feminine hygiene products but I can understand some of the commentards on here do......

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Re: Thank you Google

"Is it just me or are some people dumb."

Yep they are. Google do not operate in a vacuum occupied by Google and their customer's alone. When they scan emails they can also build a profile for users emailing gmail users and also those who have never even sent email to a gmail user but whose emails have got captured in a conversation thread that has been. When Google read a users address book, they get the email addresses and contact details of users who don't use gmail. Their data-store analysis activity and the data they store itself have implications far beyond Gmail users. It has made Google one of the most powerful intelligence agencies on the planet. You have not been granted mandate to decide this is ok for all of us, because you think critics are "are dumb" and that Google should be allowed to continue un-examined and without criticism

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thank you Google

Is it just me or are some people dumb.

Best ask Google - they have profiles on everyone :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thank you Google

A sincere thank you

Either you are sarcastic, or you need to stop smoking weird stuff ..

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Re: Thank you Google

"Yep they are. Google do not operate in a vacuum occupied by Google and their customer's alone. When they scan emails they can also build a profile for users emailing gmail users and also those who have never even sent email to a gmail user but whose emails have got captured in a conversation thread that has been. When Google read a users address book, they get the email addresses and contact details of users who don't use gmail. Their data-store analysis activity and the data they store itself have implications far beyond Gmail users. It has made Google one of the most powerful intelligence agencies on the planet. You have not been granted mandate to decide this is ok for all of us, because you think critics are "are dumb" and that Google should be allowed to continue un-examined and without criticism"

The problem with most people is that they don't know the difference between privacy and anonymity

The internet is like a public toilet with camera installed in each cubical. The cameras are already there and we can choose not to use the public toilet if we don't like them. We are told that the cameras allow the computer to scan the cubical so the company knows when to refill the paper and clean the toilet. The company makes it money selling the waste to fertilizer companies.

You don't want to pay for the toilet. You don't want the company to sell your shit. You don't want the cameras and you complain if the cubical runs out of bog paper or someone left a floater. Not only that you'll also complain if the company closes the toilet cause it's unfinancial because it's your god given right to have free toilets.

Sure the company could use the camera to look at your willy but there are thousands using the toilets every day and your willy isn't that special. If you have an issue, cover your willy or choose a toilet that is dirty because it has no camera or use your own toilet.

You're anonymous but not private. Learn the difference.

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Re: Thank you Google

The problem with many commentaries is they think it is reasonable to make a false dichotomy. You are attempting to equate knowing the difference between privacy and anonymity with agreement with your position that it is ok for a company to have a camera installed in a public toilet. It isn't.

"The cameras are already there and we can choose not to use the public toilet if we don't like them."

Do you think people always have choice about when they need the loo? Do you really think the internet is a luxury people living and working in modern society have a reasonable choice about using? Or has it now become akin to a utility? I think the latter, and a civilised society expects certain rights to be attached. There is a long and proud history of such. When travellers used horses and foot, a visitor to an Inn could expect to be able to receive a glass of water at no charge. That was a reasonable right Inn Keepers, who were allowed to trade in Alcoholic beverage, we expected to provide for. The same, BTW as I have a right not to be observed whilst using a public loo. Think about it for only a short while and its clear your example is pretty fucking asinine. A company can perfectly well be employed to monitor the loo when the loo door is unlocked, but not when I have my trousers down.

"You don't want to pay for the toilet. You don't want the company to sell your shit. You don't want the cameras and you complain if the cubical runs out of bog paper or someone left a floater. Not only that you'll also complain if the company closes the toilet cause it's unfinancial because it's your god given right to have free toilets."

"You're anonymous but not private. Learn the difference."

You don't know any of that about me or the extreme extent to which I am discriminating in the language and concepts I use. But one thing I can for sure say about you is you have said the above because you think its ok to put words in other people's mouths and then criticise them as though that is who they are. Since you think it's OK to paint inaccurate pictures of people and dole out "lessons" I'm going to go one better and having painted an accurate picture of you, dole out a well founded lesson. There is never, ever an excuse for doing that and, indeed, doing so just makes you a dick; dick.

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Re: Thank you Google

"Do you think people always have choice about when they need the loo?"

So who is making you use GMail? There is 1001 "free" services out there or you can make your own mail server.

There is no such thing as free and preventing companies from monetizing the service just results in the service being close because it's unfinancial.

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Big Brother

Only to avoid being sued

C'mon folks, get off the joy-juice. This is not being done out of the goodness of Google's black shriveled little heart.

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Re: Only to avoid being sued

Well duh.

Doesn't mean I still don't appreciate the benefit.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Only to avoid being sued

Yeh - have you seen what Chrome does on Mac as explained by Little Snitch?

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Goodness.

How benevolent of them to bestow such a royal pardon on the little darlings.

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TRT
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Re: Goodness.

Well, if they were scanning kids' email to try and sell them things, number one on the list would probably be dictionaries.

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Re: Goodness.

Actually I think they stopped because the English was so bad, the robots were getting confused......

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Targeted Advertising?

I don't give a hoot in heck that Google algorithms are scanning my e-mails. No human is doing it, and nobody cares what's in my e-mails anyway. All it means is that the Mt. Everest of advertising that I'm going to see anyway just might bear some relevance to something I'm interested in. Especially if it means I get free e-mail, and free other-stuff.

There's privacy and there's privacy. I don't want -any- tin-pot sheriff's deputy or boon-dock country clerk to be looking, and that's fairly easy to make illegal, but if Google wants to mine my nonsense for money, I'm fine with it. Mining consumer data to get insight into market opportunities is just fine. Snooping into individuals lives isn't. That's the difference. Big Data Good, Little Data, needs a warrant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Targeted Advertising?

I don't care either, as I have nothing in Gmail that I give a rat's ass about. It's a spam catcher and voicemail repository for my work cell phone. I never use for anything personal.

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FAIL

@Uncle Ron - Re: Targeted Advertising?

So because (you think) *you*have nothing to hide, we should all be ok with it?

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PM.

Re: @Uncle Ron - Targeted Advertising?

Well, 99% of people are in Ron's position , me included .

Like it or not , no one gives a d.a.m.n about our small dirty secrets, so small they are...

The rest of us can shell out 5 USD per month , for paid-for mail account..

( Sigh )

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Re: @Uncle Ron - Targeted Advertising?

It ain't about your secrets its about selling you to advertisers the better to push crap on you. Its about selling your activities to insurance companies, mortgage brokers, and others.

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Re: Targeted Advertising?

> I don't give a hoot in heck that Google algorithms are scanning my e-mails

Imagine you're thinking about upgrading your hard drive to SSD. You have a little email discussion with some friends about best makes. And a day or two later you go to Amazon to check out the prices. As you navigate to the SDD page, Amazon sends a message to Google: "I've got Uncle Ron here searching for SDDs. What's his propensity to buy?" And Google sends back a high percentage score because it knows you were recently talking about SDDs in email. So Amazon ups the displayed price a couple of percent - or even just 0.5% so you don't get too suspicious. But it doesn't change the fact you're getting milked a little bit every time.

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Thumb Down

Re: @Uncle Ron - Targeted Advertising?

"Well, 99% of people are in Ron's position , me included ."

Oh, well that's fine then. Welcome, to the tyranny of the majority.

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Re: Targeted Advertising?

Genius when you think about it.

I wish it paid to apply this kind of thinking to something more meaningful.

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Re: Targeted Advertising?

"Privacy" is a cousin of "freedom". When one is damaged, so is the other.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Uncle Ron - Targeted Advertising?

"The rest of us can shell out 5 USD per month , for paid-for mail account.."

Actually it's $10 per year.

And if, knowing that, intelligent people still prefer free-but-G, it sure says something, doesn't it?

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Re: "No humans"

No human is doing it

Please don't repeat Google excuses for an reasonably intelligent audience. How did you think that code came to be? Skynet? It's a human who controls what is being searched for, that argument (which comes straight from the Google lie help files) is entirely irrelevant.

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Re: Targeted Advertising?

Wasn't there a similar thing a while ago about some retailers silently raising prices when browsed from an iPad, on the grounds that anyone willing to fork out for a high-end device like that probably has a lot of disposable income?

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Free my mail

Oh no, it is free.

Imprison my mail, Imprison my mail, Imprison my mail!

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Why scan the in-box?

All that tells you is that everyone wants to be harder, thinner, has been mis-sold payment protection insurance and has an opportunity to earn millions helping someone transfer money from Nigeria. If you are going to scan something, it should be the sent items.

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Anonymous Coward

Is your privacy worth nothing?

It surprises me how many people willing hand over a significant amount of their personal information in the form of email to a large corporation that makes no pretences about respecting our privacy, but on the contrary openly and actively exploits our personal data every day for their commercial gain.

I can understand the point of view of a Gmail user who does not care about the little ad at the top of the screen, were this the extent of the intrusion into our personal lives that Gmail represents, however that little ad is but the tip of the iceberg and below the surface, rest assured that Google has built a big business around tracking, cataloguing, and monetizing our digital identities.

Motives aside, and you could argue that as an ad company Google's motives are relatively benign, if I were a Gmail user (which I am not) I would not care as much what Google is doing with my personal information once they obtained it–and make no mistake, they are masters at obtaining it–but rather I would be incensed by the principle of the whole Gmail thing... namely you hand over your privacy in exchange for free email hosting.

This is tantamount to a postal worker arriving at your front door, opening and reading your mail in front of you and taking some notes before handing over the torn envelopes. It's one thing for governments to be snooping on us, but quite another for us to willingly hand over the keys to some organization who wants to exploit our private information. Is privacy worth nothing today?

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Re: Is your privacy worth nothing?

This is tantamount to a postal worker arriving at your front door, opening and reading your mail in front of you and taking some notes before handing over the torn envelopes.

I agree with your point but there's an error in your analogy.

It would actually be like a new postal company that would deliver your post without monetary charge on the condition that you granted them licence to not only look at every item you send but also every item of post sent to you regardless of whether the sender of that item had paid for delivery or not.

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Re: Is your privacy worth nothing?

Not quite. The delivery person coming to the house would be delivering the torn envelopes which came through a private collection system.

Remember, I am the recipient and MY eMail is being read because someone else doesn't care about their privacy and, worst of all, they don't consider nor care for mine.

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Re: Is your privacy worth nothing?

And in return for reading your mail, they block unsolicited mail and warn you of frauds.

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Re: Is your privacy worth nothing?

Its nothing like a postal worker. A computer is not a person. There are no human going through your emails. Your are presenting a false comparison in order to appeal to emotions. I get to use the best webmail service and the price is only that a server knows what I like... The horror....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is your privacy worth nothing?

I appreciate your comment and your preference for sound reasoning over logical fallacy in this public forum.

If it helps you sleep at night to believe that the only price you have to pay for using Gmail is that a computer in some data center is aware of your personal information, then I would have to say that since you appear not to value your privacy you are getting fair market value for it by giving it to Google for free.

Remember that Google is a company run by humans with profit motives, and that those humans built the services, infrastructure and applications we use every day including Google search, AdSense, Gmail, YouTube, and others, and they collect personal information about users as they interact with these services without providing a meaningful way to opt out of this process.

Gmail is bad enough, but what really gets me is that even Google's paid email service, Google Apps for Business, also does not provide an opt out feature for email scanning. So basically Google is getting customers to pay for the privilege of being scanned, tagged, classified, and categorized in their database.

Fortunately there are email service providers out there who will happily take your money and respect your privacy in exchange for reliable email hosting.

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Law

"But what about the rest of us? Surely we don't deserve to have our emails scanned so Google can show us advertising?"

I don't get it... You're using the service in return for giving them a screen to fling ads at you with. Its not like you're being forced to use gmail.

Don't like the price, go find a different provider, it's not rocket science.

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I don't use gmail. I never have

But Google still scans a lot of the mails I send or receive.

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Or pay via Apps for Business.

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Law

"I don't use gmail. I never have

But Google still scans a lot of the mails I send or receive"

But that's a different issue to the one I was addressing... The act of scanning incoming mail from other providers isn't new. If you don't want Google to scan your emails don't email Google users. Or if you do, make sure you encrypt the message.

I understand the expectation of privacy in email to a point - I expect it too, but all free providers do this to a point... But email is fundamentally unsecure.

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Anonymous Coward

I remain sanguine on the email scanning

As long as no human reads my email, and no IP can be inferred from what I write, I'm mostly fine with it. The email scanning doesn't help or hinder government agencies, who already use other means. Besides, whatever email scanning algorithms Google uses do not work for me. I can't remember the last time I saw a useful ad. Facebook is worse.

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Re: I remain sanguine on the email scanning

@AC truth is you have no idea how, why, or when Google is scanning your mail, or what part that plays in a larger surveilance of you. So it is nonsense to come up with "It's okay so long as..." scenarios.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I remain sanguine on the email scanning

I have no idea what my employer or anyone else scans and uses my data. I can either take them all at their word, or I can put my tinfoil hat on.

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We have what we need

We already have what we need at this time and it's taking up too much server space at this point thank you. We reserve the right to further evasiveness once usership has recovered. That is all puny infidels.

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Generousity from Google???

I don't think so. RTFA, they did it because of a lawsuit. Which, makes me wonder what it is that they don't want to come out in court.

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For Uncle Ron and the rest who agree...

For all you commentards of the "doesn't matter, I have nothing to hide" mentality, think about the verse from Martin Niemöller:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

This also applies to those not bothered by the activities of various 'intelligence' organzations. As it is, there's no telling how much of Google's data is being sucked off and for what purpose. Personally, I think we should all be afraid, very afraid.

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Re: For Uncle Ron and the rest who agree...

I'm sorry...

Fair point, but all I got was

"Sucked off... Heh!"

I'm hoping something(s) new comes along that revolutionises tinterwebs and sets us free from the gas chambers.

E.g.

The gnu/Linux community fully supports mobile...

A new improved Ad-Block enters the scene, perhaps with an aggressive 'you pay me, I pay them' privacy protection service that the Facebook generation finally embraces... perhaps after zuck is caught selling photos, names, addresses and the favourite candy/sweets brands of kids to sex traffickers or something... Google could easily make their own 'private' software/services. People would pay. Let's see how profitable the blackphones are and they may well do so.

ISPs and mobile phone carriers implode after something really nasty happens, perhaps as a consequence of overenthusiastic 'cyber warfare'... like everyone's overdrafts are maxed out...

Tinterwebs become freely accessible worldwide... ham radio?

But it's far more likely that tinterwebs will be saved by the advent of a new and improved means of making money, resulting in diminished profitability.

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Re: For Uncle Ron and the rest who agree...

you have envoked Godwin's Law. You lose by default.

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Re: For Uncle Ron and the rest who agree...

I may have unintentionally invoked Godwin's Law, but the reality is that we all lose. The question to be asked back to you is what are you doing to make sure we don't end up in some society worse than Orwell ever dreamed up?

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Anonymous Coward

I almost feel sorry for Google.

Everyone knows what they do. It's pretty lame for a bunch of students to sue. It's a PR stunt by Google so that some more sheeple put their trust in them.

"Commercialisation seeps into all corners of children's lives..." Yes, so you better get them used to being slaves at an early age so that they will continue to be compliant as they grow into the world manufactured for them.

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