GMail - Security Concerns!
Thread poster: Premier Focus

Premier Focus  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:21
German to English
+ ...
Mar 23, 2005

Good afternoon everybody!

I have noticed that GMail invitations are spreading through ProZ.com like wildfire. In the meantime I have done some research on GMail myself, wondering if this is indeed a credible service.

By browsing around online and through various tech news forums, I have noticed that GMail is part of several heated debates in the news, which deal with security concerns.

It is being said that Google admits that even deleted (!) messages will REMAIN on their system, and may also be accessible internally at Google, for an indefinite period of time. Google has NOT set specific, finite limits on how long it will retain user account, email, and transactional data. And Google has NOT set clear written policies about its data sharing between business units.


Furthermore it is said that Google scans the text of ALL incoming messages for the purposes of ad placement. Several privacy and civil liberty organizations are speaking out agains GMail due to these privacy issues. (See this URL:
http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/GmailLetter.htm)


If you are indeed considering to look into a GMail account and are concerned about the safety of your private information, please inform yourself ahead of time and do not just look through Google's website alone, but consult other leading tech news sites that give you a different angle. (See this URL from the Electronic Privacy Information Center to get started: http://www.epic.org/privacy/gmail/faq.html)

Best regards,



Kerstin Kramer


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Claudio Chagas
Brazil
Local time: 23:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Are we really safe? Mar 23, 2005

That's sound advice! But the only way to protect our privacy on the Internet is stop using it - even that doesn't stop other institutions to hold some sort of personal information about ourselves on databases that can be accessed by others on the net. One can really get paranoid if probing deeper into the complexities of this subject.

Regards,

Claudio


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:21
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I share your concerns about privacy Mar 23, 2005

Hi Kerstin,

I share your concerns about privacy. Internet pressure groups and discussions at www.webmasterworld.com have ‘helped’ Google a lot in amending their ways.

Google’s privacy policy on http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html is clear, although I can’t vouch for their English: “Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission.”

Your online information is up for grabs and any information on any server can be requested for judicial reasons. What I truly dislike about Google’s privacy policy is their statement that they’ll keep deleted messages for “some time”. I’d rather they’d commit to keeping deleted messages for “30 days at the most”.

The fact that computers rummage through email doesn’t scare me much. And I'm not angry about being served ads as a result of those algorithms. That the sender of an email didn’t consent to the ads being served is so farfetched that it won’t even hold in our European Parliament. I Google all day and I’m used to that. To think that in the seventies “we” in the Netherlands were outraged about TV ads…

I’d never use my Gmail address for professional purposes but I’ve shared the invites with lots of friends who need to access their mail online and want to share pictures, music and jokes without downloading all that stuff to their computer. I think Google’s privacy policy is good enough for them. Otherwise I wouldn’t have invited them.

Regards,
Gerard


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A-C Robertson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:21
French to English
+ ...
But it's Google...! Mar 24, 2005

Google is such a wonderful company...from the customer service reps to the top top management, they have a strong dedication to the happiness of the Internet public. I guess I just feel so strongly about their method of working that I support every product they have. And believe it or not, sometimes the ads that are electronically (not manually) generated due to e-mail content have been helpful to me!

There is no one at Google who is sifting through our mail, gleefully invading our privacy. I really trust Google as a sound and delightful company...


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Lingo Pros
United States
Local time: 22:21
Persian (Farsi) to English
+ ...
GMail, ATA and privacy problems Mar 24, 2005

I agree with Kerstin and Gerard. When GMail was introduced, I asked several computer nerd friends about it. They all believed the new service wouldn't become popular as there were serious security risks using it and they were right.

If you've noticed, no computer security engineer or even anyone knowing well enough about internet ever has a GMail account!!! It has been my personal policy that I never send any e-mail to any GMail account as I know that if I do, my e-mail will be saved there in some fishy location forever.

There is one good point about GMail though:

When someone has a GMail account, you know you can't trust him with security matters and internet professionalism. He sends you an e- mail from his account and there goes with the wind your privacy ...

Talking about privacy problems, recently I received a mail from ATA asking me for my full postal address to be added to their database. I sent an e-mail back to them, asking them to verify their policy on members' personal information protection. I asked them to send me a note indicating they wouldn't sell my address.

Their reply was something like:

You don't wanna give your address to us, we won't send you any mail anymore! Tit for tat, yeah...!

I am an ATA paid member and entitled to receive all their mails and notices. But it seems they have some kind of "silence policy" about confirming or denying that they sell members personal information to agencies.

I sent another e-mail and asked them to give a reply to privacy matter and my address would be sent to them. I sent a copy to nearly 10 ATA directors and the president. No reply for 2 weeks so far. So be aware! ATA is closer to us than GMail!!!!



[Edited at 2005-03-24 09:02]

[Edited at 2005-03-24 09:03]

[Edited at 2005-03-24 09:05]


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Lingo Pros
United States
Local time: 22:21
Persian (Farsi) to English
+ ...
GMail and Orkut: Google born but DNA match different... Mar 24, 2005

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Google’s privacy policy on http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html is clear, although I can’t vouch for their English: “Google will never sell, rent or share your personal information, including your Gmail address or email content, with any third parties for marketing purposes without your express permission.”

Your online information is up for grabs and any information on any server can be requested for judicial reasons. What I truly dislike about Google’s privacy policy is their statement that they’ll keep deleted messages for “some time”. I’d rather they’d commit to keeping deleted messages for “30 days at the most”.



1- Google statement is legally flawed. It states "Google will not sell, rent,.... personal info to a "third party' for ..." But it doesn't say Google itself won't use the info directly for advertising!

2- It says Google will not share it with thrid party for "marketing purposes". But still can share it for OTHER purposes, like selling it for research/ scientific polling!

3- Google can be dissolved or merged with another company someday. Where will all the info go? HOW LONG the information would remain with them is surely not mentioned anywhere and is a matter of concern.

4- All the above was Google policy. As I remember, when one is going to sign in for GMail, that agreement there that must be signed is not the regular Google statement and is slightly different, but no one reads it. If anyone signs for GMail, my advice is 'first read, then think, then agree'!

http://gmail.google.com/gmail/help/privacy.html

Google has surely acted smartly to give away GMail and Orkut accounts the "hip" way it did, otherwise maybe many could have thought twice before joining these two services...


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Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:21
Italian to English
+ ...
Pragmatism Mar 24, 2005

I agree with Dr. Robertson and others.

I think we have to be pragmatic about our use of the internet, just as we should be equally concerned about other services we accept and take for granted (credit cards, store loyalty programmes etc.), all of which have the potential for abuse but if we wish to take advantage of the service, then we just have to bite the metaphorical bullet.

I personally (and I don't think I'm very different from a vast number of people) have information relating to all aspects of my life in the hands of:-
Mediaset group
RBoS group
Amex
Walmart group
Disney Corp.
Microsoft
IBM
Yahoo and
Google, just to name a few that quickly come to mind.

There are a few "demons" and a few "angels" in the above list, but if I want to make full use of their services, then there is a price to pay in terms of potential risk to privacy.

Personally, I don't have any major problems with that. I'm not a drug dealer or international terrorist. I'm not actively engaged in breaking any laws -that I'm aware of. I don't communicate state secrets etc. I DO often communicate company and commercial secrets, but I am bound by laws governing the protection of data and I am sure that all the above, serious corporations are likewise bound.

Best regards and have a happy Easter, when it comes.

Sandy


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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:21
French to English
+ ...
Good as a back-up email address Mar 24, 2005

I think there may be minor security concerns with Gmail, but I think the same holds true for all free web-based e-mail accounts. Professional people should not even dream of using Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. as their main account. If I ever get a CV from a free e-mail account, I delete it without even looking at it.

My professional e-mail account is with my web-hosting company, using my own domain name. But these free accounts are invaluable as a back-up, because sometime you will have to send off a translation at a set time, and your regular e-mail will suddenly have technical problems, rendering it inaccessible. I see no problem using Gmail for this purpose, and as mentioned above for chatty messages between friends. I wouldn't use it to e-mail my bank, though


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 04:21
English to French
+ ...
The future possibilities Mar 24, 2005

Lingo Pros wrote:

If you've noticed, no computer security engineer or even anyone knowing well enough about internet ever has a GMail account!!! It has been my personal policy that I never send any e-mail to any GMail account as I know that if I do, my e-mail will be saved there in some fishy location forever.



Thank you Lingo Pros to have exposed the issue so well. I was suspicious from the beginning, but seeing the popularity and the enthusiasm of the others people, I felt in minority.

You are right, not for marketing purposes, but what a tool to conduct surveys at the planet scale, as I am sure the messages are searcheable in the company. Just to know what is going on in the population and act accordingly. Is google free from politics pressures? Who knows what really happen or will happen in the future with this kind of informations? Will they be able to resist the temptation? Why the owner of the mail account cannot decide for himself if he want to totally delete the messages at any given moment?

I have a mail account with my domain name, I do what I want, to keep my messages as long as I want or delete them, increase the size of my mailbox to 2GB...

Not that I have any classified information to send or receive, it is the development of the thing I worry about.


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xxxtr.
Local time: 04:21
English to Italian
don't like the idea either Mar 24, 2005

For me it was a simple choice even before reading about the privacy concernes. I don't like webmail. I already have two handy free POP accounts with the Italian postal service and my mobile phone company, plus those on my domain. I don't like targeted ads, but at least on search engines I can ignore them. Imagine using gmail to contact another translator or agency and an ad for a translation service appears below. It would look like a joke!

Most of all, I really do not like the idea of my email, personal or work, however harmless and not so private its contents, can be retained by a company indefinitely and made accessible to other parties. It's the principle that bugs me really. I must admit they were very clever in selling this as a plus point though! "You'll never have to delete email! 1GB of storage!". Well, I want to be able to delete email! 20 MB is more than enough for me precisely because I don't want my server to retain my correspondence, so I regularly delete old mail and save to text only the stuff I want to keep.

They're moving the notion of search engines more and more from content access to content ownership. See also what they did with usenet:

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/07/technology/07NECO.html

In Usenet's original incarnation, messages posted to newsgroups disappeared within weeks, replaced by other comments on the same topic in what was perceived as an ongoing electronic conversation. When Deja.com, then called Deja News, began archiving messages in 1995 and making them searchable, there were protests by those who felt the bulletin boards were never intended to be permanent.

In response, Deja made it possible for users to exclude their postings from its archive by typing the phrase "X-No-archive: yes" at the beginning of a message. With that change, and as Deja subsequently shifted its business model toward consumer- written product reviews and trimmed its public Usenet archive, the privacy issue faded to the background.

Google's acquisition of the archive, however, not to mention a mass-audience popularity that Deja never achieved, may revive some of those privacy concerns. Although Google may be preserving an important historical resource — an effort that some have lauded — the company is also making the record of this "human conversation" accessible in ways that its participants may not have been able to anticipate.


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Premier Focus  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:21
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Google and Usenet Mar 24, 2005

I was unable to access the newspaper article, as it asked for a password, but when replying to your message in this forum, the original text came up. Here it is:

Kerstin



http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/07/technology/07NECO.html

In Usenet's original incarnation, messages posted to newsgroups disappeared within weeks, replaced by other comments on the same topic in what was perceived as an ongoing electronic conversation. When Deja.com, then called Deja News, began archiving messages in 1995 and making them searchable, there were protests by those who felt the bulletin boards were never intended to be permanent.

In response, Deja made it possible for users to exclude their postings from its archive by typing the phrase "X-No-archive: yes" at the beginning of a message. With that change, and as Deja subsequently shifted its business model toward consumer- written product reviews and trimmed its public Usenet archive, the privacy issue faded to the background.

Google's acquisition of the archive, however, not to mention a mass-audience popularity that Deja never achieved, may revive some of those privacy concerns. Although Google may be preserving an important historical resource — an effort that some have lauded — the company is also making the record of this "human conversation" accessible in ways that its participants may not have been able to anticipate.


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Lingo Pros
United States
Local time: 22:21
Persian (Farsi) to English
+ ...
News: Yahoo matches GMail one gigabite space! Mar 25, 2005

Here is the good news just out of the oven:

Yahoo raised its webmail storage for users to 1GB in a move to match web-competitor Google's Gmail.

http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=22108

So if you have a GMail account, you can close it for good right now.


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