Google’s GMail May Be Blocked

Google’s plans to incorporate targeted advertising in emails sent to its GMail subscribers have hit another setback – Liz Figeuroa, a Democratic Senator in California is drawing up legislation declaring that the adverts are intrusive and the service is an invasion of privacy.

This puts a rather large dent in Google’s business model for the site: the storage for all those one gig accounts, even compressed, won’t be cheap and targeted advertising was really their only revenue stream for the service.

Figeuroa wrote a strongly worded letter to Google urging them to forget the whole thing: “I cannot urge you strongly enough to abandon this misbegotten idea. I believe you are embarking on a disaster of enormous proportions, for yourself and for all of your customers.”

European privacy groups are already sniffing around GMail potential privacy infringements, specifically Google’s lack of a promise that anything deleted on GMail is deleted forever.

We’re a little baffled that this concern is levelled only at an email service – there are plenty of other areas where people are giving their privacy away. People don’t have to sign up for the free email service, and there are plenty of others around, admittedly with less storage. Many people already choose to give away personal information, purchasing habits and other private data in exchange for something “free”, and there seems to be no shortage of willing punters: look at those store loyalty cards in your wallet for example. If you have a Nectar, Boots, Game or other reward card, you’re already presenting marketing companies with a rich, moment-by-moment picture of what you buy, when and what with.

Kron4 report the story

BBC News on GMail

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?