Google’s Gmail is the web-mail leader with more than 500 million people using the free email service. Gmail recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and has been under scrutiny for collecting personal data to display customized ads to users.
According to the article, “Why GMail and Other eMail Services Aren’t Really Free” by Heather Kelly, “Gmail is automatically scanning and indexing messages and using the data it mines to show relevant ads to its users.” As a result, Gmail is facing several privacy lawsuits in the United States and Europe.
Although they aren’t paying money for Gmail, users are providing their personal data to use the free email service. “When people send and receive messages using a free e-mail service, they are sharing details about their interests, who their connections are and what their finances look like.” Personal data can then be used to create a comprehensive user profile and stored for future marketing opportunities.
Despite the negativity surrounding personal data collection, Gmail has invented a variety of convenient features that users enjoy. Features like mail goggles, calendar integration, and threaded conversations are just a few of the innovative ideas to come from Google.
Read more in an excerpt from the article.
Google has defended its e-mail scanning program by pointing out that it’s automated and handled by computers picking out keywords. Google’s employees aren’t personally reading through e-mails for the latest lovers’ spat.
Google also says the scans are necessary to cut down on malicious e-mails and spam, and for features such as Priority Inbox and the tabbed view that filters e-mails into different categories.
A federal judge dealt a blow to the case this month, ruling it couldn’t proceed as a class-action lawsuit because the different groups weren’t cohesive enough. A class-action lawsuit could have cost Google trillions of dollars in damages.