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Inside Scoop: Inside Scoop: Why Gmail's lack of privacy shouldn't be a surprise

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Inside Scoop: Inside Scoop: Why Gmail's lack of privacy shouldn't be a surprise

3:11 /

Google isn't mincing words. If you use its Gmail service, you should expect that your messages are scanned. CNET's Sumi Das and Seth Rosenblatt discuss how common this practice is among free e-mail providers and whether it's possible to make sure messages are for your eyes only.

-Hello and welcome to Inside Scoop. I'm Sumi Das and joining me is Senior Writer for CNET Seth Rosenblatt. -Hi, Sumi. -Thanks for being with us. -Thank you. -Okay. So a couple of days ago we found out that, shocked, Gmail is actually or rather Google is looking through our Gmail messages. -Yes. -Should this have come as a surprise? -Not really. Google's been serving ads to us based on keywords that they have detected in the emails for a couple of years now. This isn't really anything new. I think what was really so unusual about it was that the court case that they cited was fairly blunt about what their intentions are. -And is that why people are kind of up in arms about it? Why so much outrage this time around? -I think that's really the reason. There was one group that sort of put out a press release about this legal case. It turns out the case came about-- or the filing was filed, geez, I think June or May. -Okay. Right. -It's been-- -It's been a few months. -It's been out for a long time. This isn't really anything new and even privacy experts, privacy attorneys I've spoken to, everybody is saying that this really isn't all that. -Okay. And if you are using Gmail, folks who are considering switching to Yahoo or Hotmail, is that gonna be a better situation? -No. -No. All right. Let's make that clear. -Between Gmail and Yahoo and whatever Microsoft mail service you're using, Hotmail, Outlook.com, whatever it is now, we're talking about over 1 billion web mail accounts between those 3 services alone. There's currently only around 2.5 billion people on the internet, maybe even a little less. So you're talking about a vast, vast majority of people who use the internet, who use web mail, are on one of those 3 services. -Right. And if you really don't want your email read, scanned, if this really irks you what are the options? Paid email services? -Not really. -Are they scanning emails too? -Well, either they're scanning emails or they're gonna wind up getting subpoenaed by the government and they're gonna have to put in a back door. There's a lot of stuff out there right now that's unclear. One person I spoke to, one privacy attorney told me that if you're using an encrypted service it's actually a flag to the government so they may not actually have access to your email but they're going to keep the digital files of it until they do get the encryption unencrypted. -Yes. -So I don't know. Chisel and stone maybe. -I was gonna say snail mail. -Yes. Yes. -The U.S. Postal Service should be capitalizing on this. -They really should, and one of the interesting things is that you know even though the U.S. Postal Service is run by the government it has a, you know, 200-plus-year history of more or less privacy in physical mail communications. -Exactly. -And the laws that govern electronic mail don't have those regulations in place. So if you're really, really concerned and you must do things electronically talk to your congressional representative. -Right and go stock up on some stamps maybe. -Oh, a lot of stamps. -Seth, thanks so much. -Thank you. -For Inside Scoop, I'm Sumi Das. Thanks for watching.

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