April 13, 2004 6:45 PM PDT

Google to consider Gmail changes

Google said Tuesday it is "batting about" possible changes to its Gmail Web-based e-mail service, which launched last month to a chorus of privacy concerns.

The search engine giant unveiled Gmail in late March to about 1,000 people in what it called a limited test. Nevertheless, it immediately produced an uproar over plans to offer Web surfers up to 1GB of storage for free, subsidized by advertising based on keywords scanned from messages and delivered over the service.

Google spokesman David Krane said the company plans to listen closely to the responses of test users and other interested parties during a three- to six-month test period. He said Google may make changes based on the recommendations it receives, but it hasn't yet made any definitive decisions.

"We are in the very earliest phases of testing, and we are actively soliciting and analyzing feedback from users and third parties, including privacy groups," Krane said. "We're definitely batting about a number of options for changes to the service, but we have not yet made any specific commitments or announcements about changes to come to Gmail."

Google's plans have drawn a sharp reaction from privacy advocates, who worry about potential abuses of a system that might allow the company to permanently store millions of e-mail messages and scan their content.

On Monday, Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, Calif., said she was drafting legislation that would prevent Google or any other company from examining the content of e-mail in order to serve up ads.

Last week, Privacy International urged Britain's information commissioner to take action against the service, although that official appears unlikely to take a hard line.

Krane said the company was surprised by the amount of interest in Gmail, given its limited release. He would not speculate about possible alterations to Gmail's controversial advertising component. He offered a "no comment" when asked whether it would be economical to offer millions of people up to 1GB of storage for free without advertising to help pay for it.

Krane also highlighted some privacy enhancements of Gmail over some other e-mail services. For example, he said, the application does not automatically display images in e-mail, potentially reducing the threat of tracking technology frequently included in e-mail known as Web beacons or clear GIFs.

"The reaction so far has been very favorable from people who have tested and used it," Krane said.

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An Open Letter to Google on GMail
Dear Google,

I have been watching, horrified, as the attacks on GMail become increasingly vicious and have now reached the level of attempting to prevent the product from ever reaching the mass market.

I am writing this letter to lend to Google what it needs most in this battle--*moral support*.

The worst part of the outcry against GMail is that it has absolutely nothing to do with GMail.

Why do I say that?

First, privacy is a non-issue with GMail. Google has already addressed the real issues, confidentiality and security, more than adequately. The term "privacy" is used to evoke connotations of spies and peeping toms.

Second, Google has no power to coerce anyone to use its product. Google's only "power" is the strength of its products: its ability to offer its customers a deal worth taking. If a user does not wish to see ads or have Google retain residual copies of his correspondence, he can decline to use GMail. If the "privacy advocates" thought that users did not understand the alleged (i.e., invented) dangers of GMail, they could initiate a campaign to educate potential users on the "dangers" GMail or call for a boycott.

However, no one has called for a boycott. Why not? Because it would be a cosmic joke--everyone expects GMail to be a phenomenal success. Why? Because GMail is good--perhaps because it is great.

Why does the idea of a significantly improved, insanely low-cost e-mail service generate such an outcry?

The ugly answer is a combination of anti-corporatism, hatred of profit, and--more fundamentally--hatred of the good and the successful because they are good and successful. In today's culture, the more successful a company (or an individual)becomes, the more it is despised, shackled, and punished. Witness Microsoft, witness Martha Stewart.

If the widespread antagonism to success (particularly to *commercial*success) ever changes, it will be because the best, most productive, most profitable companies of the world--companies like Google--had the courage to stand up for themselves, asserting the fact that what they do is irreplaceably *good* and life-enhancing--and that their success should be celebrated--not vilified or destroyed.


Thanks, Google, for giving us your great products. Here's to a successful, abundantly profitable GMail.

Sincerely,
Blake Scholl
Seattle, WA
Email: bscholl@gmail.com
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gov.
Why can't people like you run for govenor? I'd vote for you. :-)
Posted by (26 comments )
Link Flag
Gosh, doesn't the Emperor look resplendent as he marches in the parade, wearing his New Suit of Clothes (see Hans Christian Andersen) ....

Have you ever read anything displaying more naivet? than Blake Schol's commentsl ?

http://www.google-watch.org/gmail.html

The safeguarding of our individual privacy falls to each and every one of us. Laziness and indifference are the easiest and quickest ways to surrender our responsibilities, ergo placing us irreparably in harms way.
Posted by dridoc (2 comments )
Link Flag
An Open Letter to Google on GMail
Dear Google,

I have been watching, horrified, as the attacks on GMail become increasingly vicious and have now reached the level of attempting to prevent the product from ever reaching the mass market.

I am writing this letter to lend to Google what it needs most in this battle--*moral support*.

The worst part of the outcry against GMail is that it has absolutely nothing to do with GMail.

Why do I say that?

First, privacy is a non-issue with GMail. Google has already addressed the real issues, confidentiality and security, more than adequately. The term "privacy" is used to evoke connotations of spies and peeping toms.

Second, Google has no power to coerce anyone to use its product. Google's only "power" is the strength of its products: its ability to offer its customers a deal worth taking. If a user does not wish to see ads or have Google retain residual copies of his correspondence, he can decline to use GMail. If the "privacy advocates" thought that users did not understand the alleged (i.e., invented) dangers of GMail, they could initiate a campaign to educate potential users on the "dangers" GMail or call for a boycott.

However, no one has called for a boycott. Why not? Because it would be a cosmic joke--everyone expects GMail to be a phenomenal success. Why? Because GMail is good--perhaps because it is great.

Why does the idea of a significantly improved, insanely low-cost e-mail service generate such an outcry?

The ugly answer is a combination of anti-corporatism, hatred of profit, and--more fundamentally--hatred of the good and the successful because they are good and successful. In today's culture, the more successful a company (or an individual)becomes, the more it is despised, shackled, and punished. Witness Microsoft, witness Martha Stewart.

If the widespread antagonism to success (particularly to *commercial*success) ever changes, it will be because the best, most productive, most profitable companies of the world--companies like Google--had the courage to stand up for themselves, asserting the fact that what they do is irreplaceably *good* and life-enhancing--and that their success should be celebrated--not vilified or destroyed.


Thanks, Google, for giving us your great products. Here's to a successful, abundantly profitable GMail.

Sincerely,
Blake Scholl
Seattle, WA
Email: bscholl@gmail.com
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gov.
Why can't people like you run for govenor? I'd vote for you. :-)
Posted by (26 comments )
Link Flag
Gmail Ads Based on Spam
I hope they don't base the advertisements you see based on the contents of the spam e-mail I get. ;)
Posted by rodnarms (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gmail Ads Based on Spam
I hope they don't base the advertisements you see based on the contents of the spam e-mail I get. ;)
Posted by rodnarms (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Privacy - it's your choice...
If you're concerned about your privacy, don't use Gmail. If you feel THAT strongly about it, don't even send e-mail to Gmail accounts. I think it's a great service, if they use AI to "scan" my messages, go ahead...with the volume of e-mail Gmail will process...I'm not concerned.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Privacy - it's your choice...
If you're concerned about your privacy, don't use Gmail. If you feel THAT strongly about it, don't even send e-mail to Gmail accounts. I think it's a great service, if they use AI to "scan" my messages, go ahead...with the volume of e-mail Gmail will process...I'm not concerned.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Email Filters?
Would this make Hotmail/Yahoo Mail's SPAM filters illegal too? They read the email just as much as Google does.
Posted by CharMcD (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Email Filters?
Would this make Hotmail/Yahoo Mail's SPAM filters illegal too? They read the email just as much as Google does.
Posted by CharMcD (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dont like it? Dont use it!
Its a no brainer folks. If it freaks you out or scares you dont use it. There are other options for you. Why is that so hard to grasp?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dont like it? Dont use it!
Its a no brainer folks. If it freaks you out or scares you dont use it. There are other options for you. Why is that so hard to grasp?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The truth
The people that are worried about GMAIL, know that they do not have to use it but the point of the matter is that they WANT to use it.

William M Gary
Tech News Geek (almost)
Posted by William002 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The truth
The people that are worried about GMAIL, know that they do not have to use it but the point of the matter is that they WANT to use it.

William M Gary
Tech News Geek (almost)
Posted by William002 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does not the mere act of being an addressee in an email from a Gmail account expose you to Google's information gathering practices that result in you being given 'a place of honor' in their databases forever?

Duh-Uh !!!
Posted by dridoc (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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