Is Gmail worth the risk?

Summary:Gmail users are passionate devotees of the free Google email service. Some typically jaded bloggers even believe that Gmail is "perfect" (see "Google's Gmail: Still far from perfect.

Gmail users are passionate devotees of the free Google email service. Some typically jaded bloggers even believe that Gmail is "perfect" (see "Google's Gmail: Still far from perfect.").

I believe otherwise, as I warn in "Gmail and Health URLs: Why Google cares less about your privacy, and why you should care":

Should Google love be unconditional? Should Google love blind users of the risks they run by using its services? Should Google love exempt the Google corporation from scrutiny of its stated and real desire to manipulate all of the “the world’s information,” personal, public and private, in support of its multi-billion dollar profit objectives?

NO. Google Gmail is not email business as usual.

SO WHAT, is a typical Gmail user response: “I have nothing to hide, I trust Google, Google is secure…”

Such flippant retorts are as naïve as Google’s “do no evil” slogan.

Nothing is risk-free: Risks of fraud, data manipulation and identity theft can be reduced, however, by choosing email systems which provide for more user control and which are not integrated within data mining business models.

Many "TalkBackers" at my blog are strong believers in Google, perhaps even Google lovers, and they believe in Google Gmail:

"Kama-sama": Oh no! Now they'll have access to pictures of my pets and where I'm planning on meeting a friend for lunch tomorrow. And the only reason I can think of that someone will actually look through the messages is if that person commits a felony and they're to be used as evidence, in which case I'm all for that since the person gives up most of their rights at that point anyway. I've got nothing to hide, so I'd gladly pay that "price" for this service.

"TalkBackers" have also expressed concerns about Google's ambitions with Gmail:

"mrwonder": GMailUnPrivacy.It gets interesting when you notice the topics of ads on your email frame. Try putting different topics into letters sent from or to your gmail account. There is definitely data mining in action....Fortunately, there is no crosslink between your gmail identity and any other.


PS: By reader request, and in conjunction with the rebranding of my blog to "Digital Markets," I will be "talking back" to my passionate "talk backers" in TalkBack, so I invite you to "ADD YOUR OPINION!"

[poll id=20]

Topics: Google


A former ZDNet blogger, Donna Bogatin is the founder of online directional media properties and In addition to her own ventures, Donna has been advising companies on Web-based business development since 1997, when she created and led an "Internet For Entrepreneurs" workshop for the Small Business Administra... Full Bio

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