Political Editors / September 21, 2018

Your Email: A Presumption of Privacy?

Google admits to allowing third-party data mining of users’ Gmail accounts.

Just how private is your email? Well, not as private as many may assume (here’s looking at you, Hillary Clinton). In response to a letter from senators questioning Google’s privacy policy and the potential for misuse of information from individuals’ Gmail accounts, Google vice president for public policy Susan Molinari explained that “developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data.” She added that Google’s privacy policy is “easily accessible to users to review before deciding whether to grant access.”

What does “access” mean? The Wall Street Journal notes, “Using software tools provided by Gmail and other email services, outside app developers can access information about what products people buy, where they travel and which friends and colleagues they interact with the most. In some cases, employees at these app companies have read people’s actual emails in order to improve their software algorithms.” Moreover, “Google and other email providers have permitted hundreds of third-party apps to collect data with the permission of users. They often perform useful tasks, like tracking shopping receipts and planning travel itineraries, by analyzing the billions of emails that arrive in inboxes every day.”

The fact is Google allows data mining of individual Gmail accounts, which means that essentially everything in a user’s email is information available to whoever is willing to pay for it. Ultimately, nothing is really free.

This may not be all that surprising for folks jaded enough to realize that privacy in the technology age is not what it used to be. But there’s also a difference between social media and email — or at least one would be forgiven for thinking so. By nature, social media is public, while email is private communication. It’s functionally the same as letter writing used to be.

What may be more problematic, however, is the fact that Google suffers the same serious leftist political bias typical of Silicon Valley tech giants. That includes firing an employee for writing that men and women are different. It also includes another Wall Street Journal report on bias: “Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways they might be able to tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails.”

Employees put their money where their mouths are, too. Investor’s Business Daily reports, “Over the last 14 years Alphabet [Google’s parent company] employees gave 90% of their political donations, or $15.5 million, to Democrats.” What’s to stop these politically motivated Google employees from exploiting private information on millions of Americans for the Democrats’ political aims?

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