Your Right To Privacy

As we hear more complaints about government surveillance, companies like Google openly collect our data. If you aren’t careful, every time you log on, all your activity could be up for grabs.

Google confirmed this past week what many people had assumed all along: even if you’re not a Gmail user, your email to someone who does use their services will be scanned by the all-seeing search giant and the advertising company’s increasingly smart machines. The company has officially updated their terms of service to read:

          Our automated systems analyze your content (including e-mails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

In the consolidated multi-district litigation brought by users in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, the users alleged that Google had violated state and federal wiretapping laws by scanning the content of messages sent through Gmail, to serve ads to users among other things.

The court case in California over Google’s interception of email, District Judge Lucy H. Koh said that Google’s terms of service and privacy polices did not explicitly notify the plaintiffs “that Google would intercept users’ emails for the purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising.” Google’s decision to change its terms of service may have been prompted by these comments.

Always keep in mind that simply by using any of their free services (Gmail, Google search and your Google account) you are automatically agreeing to their current terms of service and authorizing them to do as they please with the data they collect.

This also applies to data or files you upload or transfer via their services according to this TOS addendum:
– Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

If you’d like to see what Google can and will do about collecting personal data, here’s a link to their new terms of service:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/

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