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.