Thursday, April 08, 2004

Susan Crawford on the Gmail debate

Professor Crawford teaches a great class at the Cardozo School of Law entitled 'Cyberlaw.' We are getting into the privacy section of the class next week so the Gmail debate is timely. She seems to have a similar perspective to my own on the situation although she is less concerned about the saving of deleted email. Check out this post on her blog.

Some highlights:

If we're really worried about privacy, what concerns us is someone developing a full-blown dossier of our every move and publishing it to people whose possession of this information would be hurtful to us in some way. But, other than this particular worry, whether someone's watching is of no particular interest or consequence. There is so much information in the world that it is unlikely that we'll be important enough to cause the sifting that would produce such a dossier.

Same thing for online life. All of us send a great deal of email and wander around for hours at a time. Sure, someone could be watching. But should we worry? Should we be concerned that an ad may be targeted at our computer based on our online activities? Who is hurt by the personalization of advertising? or even content? Might it be a "negative" instinct to be concerned about this -- and particularly to be so concerned about it that we stop wandering around online or sending email?

But EPIC and others are asserting that Google's "data retention and correlation policies are problematic in their lack of clarity and broad scope." So don't use Google. It's not being forced on you. Go use a paid-for mail service that makes clearer promises to you.

My problem with the position of EPIC and others is that they analogize the machine 'reading' of email to that of a person reading it and, as Prof. Crawford put it, making a dossier. This would be a concern if the information was being sifted by an AI and then stored, but we aren't quite there yet.

As I have said below, I am still awaiting an explanation of why Google is going to keep copies of deleted email. But even if they do not offer one, I will still go for that 1gb account. I've written a few posts about this already, see below for more.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares < ? law blogs # > Listed on Blogwise Blogarama - The Blog Directory