Gmail deserves a chance

We've been here many times before, and will be again. Big company takes cudgel to rights of users, users squeal, knights on white chargers roll up and save the day.

According to Privacy International, it's time to take up lances and don helms against Google's new Gmail service and its robotic hoardes of scanners. Free e-mail with huge storage sounds nice, but PI has already complained to information authorities across Europe that Gmail is not to be trusted because it will take our data and not guarantee its security. The user agreement is dangerous, says PI.

So far, though, Google hasn't behaved in an aggressive way towards its users. It may do in the future--it's all very well saying that the company will "do no evil", but you'll be hard pressed to find any organisation outside Satanists'R'Us who'll say different. Yet on existing evidence, Google has been good. It hasn't lied to me or taken my money under false pretences. Or at all: it's merely delivered years of fabulous service for nothing. It deserves the benefit of the doubt, and Google is working hard at addressing the more draconian analyses of its user agreement before launch. And if it doesn't--well, you can always just not sign up.

The fact is that e-mail is woefully insecure. The only time you have any hope of contractual control is if you and your recipient are on the same ISP--otherwise, the moment your message has left your outbox, you're at the mercy of everyone who relays your e-mail to your recipient. They could be anyone--in fact, different chunks of the same message could be relayed by completely different companies. That's the Internet. It doesn't matter what's in your contract with your e-mail provider--they cannot guarantee security, privacy or delivery. They can and should say that they won't get naughty with your stuff when it's on their system--as Gmail seems to do--but that won't make your data secure. The only person who can make your e-mail secure is you, through decent encryption.

Quite an Interesting read, wonder what kinds of questions could this raise regarding the conventional email's delivery process. -Ed.

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News source: ZDNet

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