Day: April 8, 2004

Open Letter to Google to Suspend Gmail

Twenty Eight Privacy and Civil Liberties Organizations

Urge Google to Suspend Gmail

“The World Privacy Forum and 27 other privacy and civil liberties organizations have written a letter [inserted below] calling upon Google to suspend its Gmail service until the privacy issues are adequately addressed. The letter also calls upon Google to clarify its written information policies regarding data retention and data sharing among its business units.

The 28 organizations are voicing their concerns about Google’s plan to scan the text of all incoming messages for the purposes of ad placement, noting that the scanning of confidential email for inserting third party ad content violates the implicit trust of an email service provider. The scanning creates lower expectations of privacy in the email medium and may establish dangerous precedents.

Other concerns include the unlimited period for data retention that Google’s current policies allow, and the potential for unintended secondary uses of the information Gmail will collect and store. ”

I am pretty sure the call for Google to suspend its plan is not in earnest, and that this is merely a dramatic way to publicize privacy concerns. I hope so, at least. Gmail is going to be voluntary and any thinking person will know that Google is not going to be doing it so much out of the goodness of its heart as for the ad revenues the scheme can generate, and anyone who lets Google handle their email should do so knowingly. I will never use Gmail, much as I never use those supermarket chain or pharmacy “loyalty” cards, which create a database of my buying habits. On the other hand, I am not above making credit card purchases, so there is already a great big database in the sky of my spending patterns. Frugality and convenience are the loss leaders through which we are persuaded to yield up our privacy rights, unfortunately, and everyone has their own setpoint. In many senses, the battle for privacy is already lost; it is just that we ought not to freely cede the remaining vestiges without being informed of what we are doing…

Education as Enforcement

Mark Daims reviews Education as Enforcement — The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools edited by Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard: “Education as Enforcement incorporates 21 compelling essays (including the foreword and introduction) on the subtext of the process of education in America. Whether or not a reader agrees with any particular essayist, each writer defends children passionately and should be heard. Henry Giroux’s foreword forcefully attacks the current administration’s tactics concerning education and the greater society. Alluding to a ‘tyranny of emergency’ and an inauthentic use of the country’s fear of terrorism, Giroux feels the President is changing the nature of our society — community is constructed ‘through shared fears rather than shared responsibilities.’ Giroux wants educators to act collectively to instill democratic and social values in children and move back towards a society of shared responsibilities.

The greatest struggle Americans face is not terrorism, but a struggle on behalf of justice, freedom, and democracy for all the citizens of the globe, especially youth. ” —Human Nature Review