All this fuss about Gmail

When reading the news on the web, one thing is in all mouths: Googles email service gmail. What I cannot understand is the fuss about gmails privacy policy. The following two points are what everyone seems to be so upset about:

Residual copies of email may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account.

I ask you: So what? Just imagine how this service is going to work: Google has thousands of computers running – that’s their philosophy. For me it’s jsut clear that the whole concept would not work if there where just one copy of each email message available. Think of it: Every message that enters the system surely is replicated among the many cluster nodes at google. This is a going-on process. And it’s just the same with a deletion: Once you delete the message, this process must be replicated among the cluster nodes. It’s just not feasible to instantly remove a message on 100’000 computers. And: While receiving and displaying a message to the user must have absolute priority, processor time and network usage can be saved if deletion requests in the cluster are handeled with lower priority.

For me, this clause does not mean: “We will keep your mail forever because we want to know everything you do and you are”, but “to provide the optimal service for you, there may be some technical limitations that prevent a message from being immediately deleted from 100’000 computers at the same time”. It’s great that google tells us about this. What about hotmail? Can they guarantee instant deletion? Don’t they run a cluster?

Google’s computers process the information in your email for various purposes, including formatting and displaying the information to you, delivering targeted related information (such as advertisements and related links), preventing unsolicited bulk email (spam), backing up your email, and other purposes relating to offering you Gmail.

This is so plain simple. Tell me of one webbased email service that does not to the very same thing. The thing everyone is concerned about is the “delivering related information”-thing. But this does not mean that the computer or anyone else really “reads” your email. It just tells you that the content that is displayed on your webbrowser is analyzed and that targeted advertising is added. Tell me about any other webbased email service that does not do that.

So for me this is a whole lot of hot air and really injust: Where the privacy policies on other services just don’t tell you those (obvious) things, google’s is and everyone complains about. I hate the press.

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