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  1. #1
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    Google: Gmail users have no reason to expect privacy

    Yep, that's what their lawyers said, in a court brief:

    http://gizmodo.com/google-gmail-user...acy-1126390598


    I guess it can't get clearer than this.
    Rui
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    R4

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  3. #2
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    What else would you expect from a company who gets > 90% of their revenue from advertising?

    Joe

  4. #3
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    And thanks to the U.S. Government going 1984-style, some security-oriented email companies are being scared out of the business; or they're just using that as an excuse because it's not a good business.

  5. #4
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    All of the free stuff that Google offers you is presented as the product, but in fact is the bait. You are the product, and Google harvests as much of your personal information that it can from whatever you put in. They then make their money from packaging and selling that information.

    It became very clear that this was Google's intention when they were caught driving around with a sniffer, harvesting passwords and other private information from unencrypted routers:

    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/bits/20...ifi-sniffing/1

    And now, the NSA is accessing Google's databases, allegedly to protect us from terrorists:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57...ies-databases/

    Although other companies do the same thing as Google, I believe that Google is by far the worst in terms of violating people's privacy. I therefore avoid anything and everything Google like the plague.

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  7. #5
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    This isn't just Google or just web mail. It is email as a whole that is broken. It just wasn't designed for the modern internet. People talk about running their own email servers to avoid using Google's or their ISP's. But every email you send is transmitted across the Internet in plain text and anyone can intercept and read it if they can tap into your ISP or whatever -- unless you use encryption, which is far from universal and in my experience klunky and hard to set up. And there is still no way of guaranteeing that the person you are sending to or receiving from is who they say they are. The result is that 60%-70% of all email is spam. Post Office Protocol (POP3) and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) don't hack it any more. Voluntary add-ons like message signing have not caught on because they require awareness and some expertise (and often cost). We need to start again.

    What we need is a whole new protocol where certificates and encryption are mandatory and built into email clients transparently. And a timetable for the closedown of all the old systems so migration has to happen in, say, two years. Hard to enforce, I know, but responsible organisations would want to transition. For individuals, it should be up to ISPs to validate people's identity like the banks do and issue certificates. If you pay by credit card, that shouldn't be too hard to do -- I note that airlines use credit cards to confirm identity when they issue boarding passes via those machines so there must be a degree of trust in that. The protocol would have to work in such a way that ISPs or email providers hold your public key and can issue it to someone who requests it and verifies their identity, so the sender can encrypt the message with your public key. But only you would have the private key so even your ISP cannot read the contents of the message. Similarly the ISP will only send waiting messages to you if you prove your identity. In practice there would have to be another step where symmetric keys are exchanged, so email would slow down, but it is clear we either defend our privacy or lose it, world-wide, to any government or agency with the power of interception.

    Anyone feel like creating an RFC?

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  9. #6
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    In terms of law, the 'no privacy' is correct.
    But laws are man made. There are natural laws but natural laws are still interpreted by human. All human language is fallible. So any law is fallible. Only mathematics are real ... so far.

    Why 'no privacy' is correct?
    Because privacy is an illusion. So are our constitutional rights!

    These rights are **granted** by someone, some institution, etc.
    The 'grant' is from someone, not natively owned by oneself.

    The 'grant' could be taken away.
    Then why not taken away? ... Because tit-for-tat: They would lose the 'grants' from you.

    There are consequences of breaking the 'contract'. However, every small bit/step I gain is at your expense. If I do it slowly, bit by bit, I hope you do not notice. Finally I take back all the 'grants' I give you on the 'contract'. If I then 'rewrite' the 'contract' (the law), I own all your 'grants' without giving back a bit, and is now in 'black and white'.

    If you walk into a shop, say, Macy's, in theory (in a situation) you have no privacy, 100%. Your physical evidence (time-space) is recorded or noted ,even DNA evidence. Your privacy, if there is some, would have to be granted by Macy's. If Macy's action is restricted, it is because it is restricted by a 'contract' or 'agreement' with you, aka laws and constitutional rights. That is, Macy's is 'by contract' must grant these rights to you.

    If Macy's take its action without regards to the 'contract', you can tit-for-tat: take away (not to grant) Macy's own 'freedom and rights', such as deny business license and security, by obstructing its business flow via laws or local actions, or even by theft.

    Not all thefts are tit-for-tat as such. In history periods, when food was scarce, some had to steal food to survive. A 'contract' (the law) required them to adhere to the law and to die of hunger. It was simply illogical. On the other hand, a criminal theft is simply breaking the 'contract' for contract gains.

    Law is made to be broken.

    The people deserve their kind of government. (A government is a contract enforcer or contract referee).
    It is people who let Google goes to this stage. Before that we let Apple do it. Before that we let Microsoft do it ...

    The people who sacrifice a little bit of freedom for security, do not deserve freedom.
    I think Ben Franklin says that, to that effect.

    Last note:
    I find it funny that people agree to the statement 'no privacy,' when sending a letter, or emailing via Gmail server.
    You can write a law prohibiting that.

    Can a postman open a letter? Can your son/daughter/wife/renter open your letter if sent to your home?
    In a business, employee opens your letter, yes. But he/she acts as an **agent** of the company. He/she is part of the company. The company is supposed to protect your privacy ... if there is 'contract' or law.
    If you send a letter to a law firm, why is it private? If you go to see a doctor, why is your medical file private?

    Why is gmail not private? Because Google says so and you agree! And no law against it either.
    Why is email server not private? Why anyone can intercept and read your email? (But then why can't people intercept your phone call? Hint: Law, aka contract.)

    The people deserve their government.
    Last edited by scaisson; 2013-08-22 at 05:24.

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  11. #7
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    Cogently thought out and beautifully written, scaisson. Congratulations!

  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    In terms of law, the 'no privacy' is correct.
    If you send a letter to a law firm, why is it private? If you go to see a doctor, why is your medical file private?
    Under the rationale offered by Google, an email to your lawyer would not be private. Why couldn't google offer a service to big corporations that automatically informs them any time someone sends an email to any law firm specializing in, say, class actions that mentions the corporation? Oops, maybe they already do that. No way to know, is there?

    Incidentally, the case cited by google, Smith v. Maryland, held that putting a pen register on a phone line was not a search in violation of the 4th Amendment. The "no expectation of privacy" applied to the numbers you are dialing, not what you said during the call. Under this Supreme Court, however, government spies and big business interests (e.g., google) can usually expect 5 votes in their favor.

  13. #9
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    My answer to google was to close my gmail account to give family, friends and coworkers some measure of privacy. Currently I am converting messages to jpg images and using simple substitution codes when I want private communications. To all the snoops may you waste hours of processor time to find I did have fish for dinner.

  14. #10
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    Does anyone believe even for a second that Google,and G mail are the only ones who have no reasonable belief that there is any privacy whatsoever?Is there any company that anyone actually believes has not, or is not being compromised due to lack of privacy? If something is not done,and soon no one will be able to do anything, post anything, much less use their Pc's for any financial business at any time because at the very least big brother will be watching and using to their advantage everything everyone does at any time on line.The days of the internet belonging somewhat to those who used it for legitimate purposes are gone ,and forever forgotten. Yes, someone needs to be watching over it but I would say our government would be the very last entity to be doing this.Fiber optics,still to me holds the best sure fire way for people to know whether their is anyone sticking their nose into anything put on the web.When will someone finally figure out what needs be done and start to implement it.Seems to me the only way to be able to keep those who want to know everything about everyone at bay,is it not?

  15. #11
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    Lest folks think GMail is the only service which scans email contents to target ads, read this TechCrunch article about Yahoo Mail. There is no longer any opt-out, even with a paid account.

    My point is not to drive folks away from Yahoo or Google services. Just know what your expectations of privacy are, and gauge accordingly what you do with any Web Services, especially Social Media. Whatever you post or send or receive, it's not private and it can last forever.

    As for the encrypted email services which closed rather than comply with US legal requirements to allow releases of at least of email header information for National Security purposes [article]:

    It is my personal opinion that anyone who feels he or she needs to resort to such extreme measures to prevent law enforcement from viewing the contents of email, or header information such as origin or destination of email, probably is engaged in activities which violate local or regional laws. In other words, if you had nothing to hide, you would only take normal precautions, such as opt-outs and complaining to the service provider if you can prove that there has been a privacy breach not related to law enforcement (over which the service provider has no control). If you do anything on the Internet which prompts you to use proxies, anonymizing services, encrypted communication or other obfuscation techniques, I say you probably are doing so because you have something to hide from the authorities. No service provider should be aiding illegal activities. So I don't see any reason to go to extreme measures, if all you are trying to do is maintain confidentiality of corporate information, personal information or some other legitimate cause for privacy concerns.

    What is changing the entire landscape on the Internet is the sudden realization that governments are not honoring what was thought to be an unwritten social contract with those governed, not to spy on those not suspected of participation in criminal acts or posing direct threats to legitimate security or public safety interests. A judicial warrant would be expected in each such case, and we are now realizing that governments have not been observing this (and other) traditionally expected practice. The violations of the Social Contract have been revealed to be sufficiently troubling to make nearly any thoughtful citizen question whether any Internet presence can be justified, beyond that which is absolutely necessary for business purposes. Anyway, this is my own personal perception.

    None of this "spying" is new. For advertising purposes, private companies have been doing these things (or nearly the same things) ever since the Internet was first established. Technology has advanced enough for this private "spying" to become quite intrusive, and remedies should have been sought long before the American "911" Attacks brought the US Government into the "spying" game. Not that we have reason to believe they weren't already doing some "spying" on Internet users. (I know the local police in my area have been trolling social media websites, luring child predators out into the open for many years, long before "9/11".)

    To put our trust in people like Kim Dotcom and try to play cat and mouse with NSA or anybody else, seems to me to be throwing in the towel and admitting we have lost the fight for our online privacy. To even consider taking such extreme measures seems to me to be an invitation to a "spy vs. spy" scenario from which we citizens can never benefit in the long run.

    The proper place to fight is in the political arena, and when clear-cut violations of existing laws do take place, to also use our Courts to resolve the underlying issues. National Security has limits, and we as a nation and as a world need to better define these limits in light of recent events and revelations. The leaking was criminal at the most heinous level, but the breaches of our Social Contract have been very damaging to the faith and trust which has held the American Republic together (most of the time) since its founding.

    We must bring this whole issue to a reasonable and civilized conclusion, and quickly. To do otherwise, or to fail to act at all, seems to me to be unacceptable.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2013-08-23 at 06:27.
    -- Bob Primak --

  16. #12
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    To put it simply; this country is changing from the rule of law to the rule by power.What is truth?

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    [QUOTE=arowland;918598] But every email you send is transmitted across the Internet in plain text and anyone can intercept and read it if they can tap into your ISP or whatever -- unless you use encryption, which is far from universal and in my experience klunky and hard to set up. ]

    This is the real truth. Why should anyone expect privacy? Well, few really understand that email is not the equivalent to mailing a letter where there can be an expectation of privacy. The clueless user is surprised to discover the Google is taking advantage of the fact that there is no expectation of privacy. The only sure way to ensure privacy is, in fact, simple encryption which in spite of PGP software can be difficult.

    Unless you use a VPN your traverses across the Internet are public as well, captured by your friendly ISP. Of course they don't have the ability (now) to store that data indefinitely but they could track a particular user if they wished. Further the cookies stored on your machine by third parties allow presentation of suitable advertising unless you take steps to prevent such use. What many might think is private isn't unless you work at making yourself private.

    I can't imagine that the 'bad guys' don't know this stuff, so the NSA is collecting rather useless data. The kiddy 'p' folk and some copyright pirates often resort to various hiding means to stay underground which can make hiding one's activity suspicious. In fact, Yahoo says use of encryption for mail is against their TOS.

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    It is my personal opinion that anyone who feels he or she needs to resort to such extreme measures to prevent law enforcement from viewing the contents of email, or header information such as origin or destination of email, probably is engaged in activities which violate local or regional laws. In other words, if you had nothing to hide, you would only take normal precautions, such as opt-outs and complaining to the service provider if you can prove that there has been a privacy breach not related to law enforcement (over which the service provider has no control). If you do anything on the Internet which prompts you to use proxies, anonymizing services, encrypted communication or other obfuscation techniques, I say you probably are doing so because you have something to hide from the authorities. No service provider should be aiding illegal activities. So I don't see any reason to go to extreme measures, if all you are trying to do is maintain confidentiality of corporate information, personal information or some other legitimate cause for privacy concerns.

    Bob, that's a reasonable belief but it's not true. I certainly have nothing I need to hide from the government. However, I fully believe that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It contains no provisions for any part of it being suspended by anyone at any time for any reason. The Fourth Amendment says, in effect, that the Government is not allowed to spy on me without valid reason. These rights trump the interests of the Government in terrorism investigations. If they have a specific -- and I mean SPECIFIC -- reason that they need my data, fine. Until then, it's none of their business. Remember, the Government report is subservient to the citizenry, not the other way around.

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    Where do I stand on all this? A stream of thought follows.
    - I use Gmail and am aware (at some level) that I have signed away rights by agreeing to use their freebies.
    - I know it is stupid to agree to but NOT read the terms of service. (MS, Gmail, AT&T, ..., etc.)
    - I used to believe that if I had nothing to hide, I shouldn't worry.
    - I now fear that old information (maybe decades old) could be found, misinterpreted and misused, especially by or against persons with political ambitions.
    - Meta-data may be a description of something as mundane (and powerful) as an old-fashioned library card catalog.
    - Our founding documents recognize 'inalienable rights, endowed by our creator' that are protected by, not given by our constitution.
    - I will continue to use e-mail 7 to post stuff.
    - Something needs to change, but I don't know what to do/suggest.
    - I'm not happy & my brain hurts from thinking too much.

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