Red Echo

April 1, 2009

I’ve never used Gmail. I’ve always had my own domain with its own mail server, and until I came to Microsoft I worked at home, so I only read mail on one computer anyway. The web-mail idea has started to make more sense now that I have a conventional commuter lifestyle, but I’m still not comfortable letting the Googlebot read my mail.

It occurred to me this afternoon, however, that the Googlebot already does read most of my mail. I just had a look through my 250 most recent messages, and after filtering out web site notifications (facebook, amazon, paypal, etc), 80% of the messages were to or from gmail users.

I am not entirely comfortable with this fact, but I can’t think of anything anyone could do about it.


  1. Google is in a position requiring incredible responsibility and perfection. Eventually they’ll either mess up and leak lots of private information or get corrupt. I like Google, but it’s getting too big for comfort…

    Comment by Asher — April 1, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  2. I don’t know how much consolation it is – but I can assure you that the privacy controls within Google on people’s email (and all their private data) are extraordinarily tight, and people take them very seriously. Have a look at Gmail’s privacy policy if you want to know what is done with people’s data, and if you have any questions let me know and I’ll see if I can get you answers.

    Comment by Gretta — April 1, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

  3. I like the Google of 2009 and believe its intentions are good; it’s the Google of 2014 or 2019 or further which concerns me. Times change, people change, laws change, and priorities change, but data is permanent. Will Google’s future managers be able to maintain today’s commitment to privacy forever? Every company falls on hard times eventually, and there would be no meaningful recourse if some future Google decided to prop up a flagging balance sheet by embracing the dark side.

    Comment by mars — April 2, 2009 @ 1:23 pm