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Saving For a Space Ship

Gmail Users ‘Have No Legitimate Expectation Of Privacy’

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http://rt.com/usa/google-gmail-motion-privacy-453/

...a brief filed by attorneys for Google has surfaced showing that Gmail users should never expect their communications to be kept secret.

Consumer Watchdog has unearthed a July 13, 2013 motion filed by Google’s attorneys with regards to ongoing litigation challenging how the Silicon Valley giant operates its highly popular free email service.

The motion, penned in hopes of having the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismiss a class action complaint against the company, says Gmail users should assume that any electronic correspondence that's passed through Google’s servers can be accessed and used for an array of options, such as selling ads to customers.

"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 in the course of delivery,” the motion reads in part. “Indeed, 'a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’" .......

......."Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy," John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, said in a statement "People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents' privacy don't use Gmail."

"Google's brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office," added Simpson. "I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don't expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it. Similarly when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?"

News of Google’s motion to dismiss the complaint comes just days after two pay-for-use providers of highly encrypted and seemingly secure email services announced they’d be calling it quits. Vaguely citing a federal investigation, Texas-based Lavabit said on Thursday last week that they’re shutting down its email service, reportedly used by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Hours later, competitor Silent Circle said they’d be doing the same.

“I feel like there is a rising tide of surveillance out there, and we need to push back against it,” Silent Circle COO Vic Hyder told RT this week.......

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What a bonkers statement, but is this Google's "Ratners" moment? I suspect not.

If they were explicit and stated in their terms that they automatically assume rights to any information I access, create, transmit, use or store on or via their services I wouldn't use anything they provide. Saying that though, lots of people just don't give a damn, so it wouldn't make a huge difference...

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Google were pretty open from the start that they would scan Gmail for keywords and use it to target advertising. A lot of people were happy to put up with this as they offered a very good service in return.

However, given the revelations about the all-encompassing Big Brother state surveillance apparatus in the USA there are additional grounds for concern. I'm planning on shifting my private email to a provider that is likely to provide more privacy.

The actual scope of intrusion into your life through Google (and others) services and products is quite breathtaking. If you use the internet at all, you really need to go out of your way to protect your privacy. You also need to wholly avoid products and services from the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo who are happy to spy on their customers for Uncle Sam. This is pretty difficult to do and requires a high degree of technological nous.

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At the end of the day Google are a company trying to make money.

Any service they offer will have some business reason behind it, especially once goes beyond the experiment stage.

If you aren't paying to cover the costs of a service being offered by a company then you are the product not the consumer.

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Google were pretty open from the start that they would scan Gmail for keywords and use it to target advertising. A lot of people were happy to put up with this as they offered a very good service in return.

However, given the revelations about the all-encompassing Big Brother state surveillance apparatus in the USA there are additional grounds for concern. I'm planning on shifting my private email to a provider that is likely to provide more privacy.

The actual scope of intrusion into your life through Google (and others) services and products is quite breathtaking. If you use the internet at all, you really need to go out of your way to protect your privacy. You also need to wholly avoid products and services from the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo who are happy to spy on their customers for Uncle Sam. This is pretty difficult to do and requires a high degree of technological nous.

I'd predict a return to good old paper correspondence but the tentacles of the mass surveillance state extend even to the postal service.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/monitoring-of-snail-mail.html?_r=0

WASHINGTON — Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green. “It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else.

As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.

Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.

The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

“In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy.

“Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he said.

But law enforcement officials said mail covers and the automatic mail tracking program are invaluable, even in an era of smartphones and e-mail.

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