Have you ever notice those little ads creeping into your browsing experience? You know, the ones that seem vaguely familiar to products you may have shopped for online or maybe something you talked to someone about in an email message?
With the continued growth of electronic mail use, a person’s right to privacy remains a huge issue for many reasons. Data mining is one of the larger reasons that causes much debate. Facebook is continually being accused of invading its users’ privacy, and, as a result, is continually tweaking its privacy settings to satisfy members. Recently, Google was taken to task for its data mining of Gmail for target marketing purposes. In a 39-page motion filed in June to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cited Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s e-mail provider in the course of delivery.
Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’” So it seems that Google’s policy is that users gave up their right to privacy when they agreed to use its services. So now we have to consider the possible effects of having the content of our email being scrutinized by another entity. Despite Google’s dismissive comments, they have tentatively agreed to a settlement of $8.5 million with the plaintiffs, among them, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, the World Privacy Forum, the MacArthur Foundation and AARP, based on the claim the Internet search company violated users’ privacy by leaking their search queries, which may include names or other identifying information, to operators of websites that the users may visit.
But will this legal action result in Google ceasing its data mining tactics? Or will it just cause them to refine and make their mining more covert? Since this is from which Google fills their coffers, I think, most likely the latter. What I’ve learned from this is that the U.S mail is much more private, and I won’t get a slew of pop ups on my computer. So I won’t use Gmail for anything I would like to keep really private. In fact, maybe I’ll just go back to Hotmail since Microsoft claims they don’t do what Google does. We’ll see about that.