As we sweat government surveillance, companies like Google collect our data

Dan Gillmor writes: As security expert Bruce Schneier (a friend) has archly observed, “Surveillance is the business model of the internet.” I don’t expect this to change unless and until external realities force a change – and I’m not holding my breath.

Instead, the depressing news just seems to be getting worse. Google confirmed this week what many people had assumed: even if you’re not a Gmail user, your email to someone who does use their services will be scanned by the all-seeing search and the advertising company’s increasingly smart machines. The company updated their terms of service to read:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including e-mails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

My system doesn’t do this to your email when you send me a message. I pay a web-hosting company that keeps my email on a server that isn’t optimized for data collection and analysis. I would use Gmail for my email, if Google would let me pay for service that didn’t “analyze (my) content” apart from filtering out spam and malware. Google doesn’t offer that option, as far as I can tell, and that’s a shame – if not, given its clout, a small scandal. [Continue reading…]

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