Saturday 9 February 2013

Have you been Scroogled Microsoft asks user to support its online petition against gmail

Have you been Scroogled  Microsoft asks user to support its online petition against gmail

Microsoft has launched a new web specifically designed to point out the use of your personal emails by Google to push through ads.     Though I am a votary of personal privacy, there are a few questions which need answers.

First and foremost, I have also noticed that the ads displayed in Gmail have a distinct link with the keywords in my email.  For e.g. if I receive some mail from my broker, the ads given are always about financial services.  When my blogging friends send me a mail, various SEO services/web hosting services are advertised. 

Google says that robots or more specifically google bots decide the Ad campaign run, decided on certain algorithms like keywords appearing in the mail.  This has been stated in their Privacy Policy.  The email bots may be just bots as Google claims, but it must be understood that personal information is getting saved somewhere in some form, which is totally undesirable.  Some hack or idiot may have access to this information, not today, but at a later date and do harm to both Google and us, users.  In this day and age, the term Confidential is fast loosing its relevance with your digital foot prints available everywhere.  If you want any more examples look at Twitter and Java security loopholes which have affected hundred of users.

On the other hand, there is one more side to the story.  Google is by far the best email/cloud/blog service provider and it gives these services free without any misselling or back selling like if you want this free, please buy our this service.  Microsoft often does that.  It has already been penalised heavily for anti trust breaches.  Even now its none of its products are not available cross platform.  It has is own reasons for doing so.  But Google has to earn some revenue to provide us the variety of services it offers for free.  

Against the above argument, I think Google should come out with a self destruction of pages scanned by bots policy. It should specifically state that after the bots have read a personal message, the information passes NO human hands, is not saved or collated for any use what so ever.  And further such information is immediately deleted immediately.

Regarding the scroogled campaign by Microsoft, I think, Microsoft had pretty deep pockets to launch such kind of campaigns.  And given that it is Android and Google everywhere in the tech world, it is but natural for the big boss of tech to feel vincible and afraid of its position being dethroned in the long run.

Please post your comments on how you feel about your email being read by a bot.

Vijay Prabhu

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