Gmail Privacy? Don't Expect It, Google Says

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Do you use Gmail? If so, don't expect to have a "legitimate expectation of privacy" in any email messages that you send or receive.

From secure email services shutting down to Google claiming you should have no privacy rights in your Gmail messages, Internet privacy is beginning to feel like a pipe dream.

Google's privacy scandal is driving a campaign by Microsoft to win you over -- but is it worth jumping the Gmail ship?

Google's Privacy Policy

In a brief filed in a class action data mining lawsuit, Google's attorneys stated that users should assume that any electronic communications that go through Google's servers can be accessed and used for a range of purposes, including selling ads, reports

Google uses automated scanning to filter spam, deliver targeted advertising, and to allow you to perform routine Gmail tasks like inbox searches.

No big deal, right?

Well, in light of certain recent incidents -- y'know, like NSA surveillance -- Google's blanket statement is raising eyebrows and red flags.

One of the major qualms people are having with the email scanning is that you can't opt out of it under Google's current privacy policy.

Microsoft's Privacy Policy

That's where Microsoft is jumping in. The tech giant is trying to capitalize on Google's privacy scrutiny by gunning for a reputation as "the privacy company."

But is Microsoft really any better?

Unlike Google, Microsoft does not scan your emails for ads. They only use it as a security measure to fend off spam and malware.

However, just like Google, Microsoft uses cookies and beacons to track your behavior for targeted advertising. Unlike Google, they let you opt out of targeted ads.

Non-Sensitive Data

For die-hard Gmail fans, a saving grace is that Google's privacy policy states that the company will not disclose "sensitive personal information" to third parties unless you opt in.

So Google's public use of your data is limited to non-sensitive data, such as your web searches or viewing habits, all stripped of your personal identity -- for now, anyway.

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