Tuesday, May 04, 2004

This gmail bullshit has gone too far

EPIC is alleging that Google's proposed gmail service violates "wiretapping" laws. What a fucking crock of shit. This discredits EPIC in my eyes, perhaps permanently. Dammit, if you don't like the idea that a mechanical algorithm will be reading email sent to gmail purely in order to insert contextual ads, then guess what: don't sign up for a gmail account. I am frankly amazed --- flabbergasted --- at the completely bizarre, disproportionate backlash that people like EPIC and Liz Figueroa are stirring up in opposition to this mostly innocuous and completely voluntary service.

Guess what bozos: all these people who sign up for gmail could also, uh, hire a secretary to scan all their mail and clip magazine advertisements related to that mail. Holy shit, full PRIVACY RED ALERT, MAKE SECRETARIES ILLEGAL! They're wiretapping their bosses!

Reality check: All gmail does is offer massive amounts of highly reliable, highly available, backed-up mail storage to the masses, whereas before this was basically only available to rich people or employees of rich corporations. You pay with a tiny amount of attention, and (possibly) a tiny invasion of your privacy, instead of shelling out lots of hard cash. And if you don't like the deal, don't sign up (and don't send email to people at gmail accounts).

The anti-gmail squad's misdirected ire is particularly outrageous given that other entities online are way worse and nobody's raising hell about them at all. For example, online ad networks like DoubleClick store your complete web browsing behavior across all client sites, plus the referrers (which, if you clicked from a search engine, includes the search terms used to reach the site). And these ad networks don't even have users click through a terms of service agreement.

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