California Approves “Anti-GMail” Bill

The California state senate has approved Liz Figueroa’s email privacy bill, with some revision. “My legislation guarantees that our most private communications will remain just that – private,” said Senator Figueroa.

The bill was revised at the last minute – it originally required ISPs to seek permission before scanning emails. As it stands, e-mail and instant messaging providers can scan emails to build a profile for delivering adverts, but must abide by strict limits on how the data is used. The data cannot be shared, kept or shown to a “natural person”. We take this to mean that humans are not allowed to peek at your mail, but bots can. GMail now has to permanently delete any email at the request of a subscriber.

Anti-spam and virus filtering are covered in the bill, and as this is done automatically by software agents, it has never really been a privacy issue.


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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?