Google using Gmail to build psychological profiles

Google’s corporate leadership understands that increased privacy regulations could torpedo its entire business model and the company takes quite a lot of space on its SEC filing disclosing the dangers to its investors:

Privacy concerns relating to elements of our technology could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our products and services…

We also face risks from legislation that could be passed in the future. For example, there is a risk that state legislatures will attempt to regulate the automated scanning of email messages in ways that interfere with our Gmail free advertising-supported web mail service. Any such legislation could make it more difficult for us to operate or could prohibit the aspects of our Gmail service that uses computers to match advertisements to the content of a user’s email message when email messages are viewed using the service. This could prevent us from implementing the Gmail service in any affected states and impair our ability to compete in the email services market…

That is something to ponder about.

I have switched to Fastmail and you should too :). Here is a very brief blogpost on why I moved.



The New Gmail Inbox

Google is trying to redefine how we consume email yet again. They announced a new inbox.

The New gmail inbox feature isn’t completely new if you were among the users of the Gmail labs feature called the Smart labels. I have tried the smart labels ever since i saw them and i have to admit I have mixed thoughts on them. I have it turned on my personal id and it does the job quite well most times. I do agree that, you can’t get the tagging right by semantics alone which is why i am a little biased it does need some user discretion. The problem i had is that, I had set smart labels to tagging offers and deals from a merchants as promotions, so the inbox looked clean as i had set them to be archived after tagging for later. sadly a purchase receipt from one of the merchants got archived with the promotions tag, giving me brief concern about not receiving the receipt. Gladly the Gmail search is sturdy that i found the email in few seconds, but the brief panic was enough to make me think if these smart labels were worth turning on or for what categories should i turn them on. So the new inbox is going to be confusing and may be frustrating till people get the hang of it.

The new gmail inbox is definitely a step forward but it is definitely not a winner.