Google has continued to fight for its right to
party continue scanning user email in a Californian court this week, with it seeming rather obvious that it's doing little to sway public opinion. The company, as you might recall, has been trying to prove its case that it must scan user email - it's all part of its ability to serve email. Of course, this is absolutely untrue, as many email providers don't make it a point to scan user email. Yahoo! used to be one of those, but through a recent service agreement, it states that it's begun scanning email much like Google does, and for the same purpose.
Google wants to scan user email for the sake of advertising, that much is obvious. Since the company can compile user information from a variety of sources, such as Gmail, Chrome, Picasa and others, it can craft an extremely detailed profile on you - that = scarily accurate advertising.
While few would argue that Google's scanning is entirely automated, it still doesn't sit well with privacy advocates, and really, it's for legitimate reasons. If a company like FedEx scanned our packages to figure out what was inside and then sold that information off to advertisers, it's doubtful anyone would consider that to be a good thing.
Admittedly, this is an issue I'm not foaming at the mouth in rage against. While I'm all for privacy, I personally signed-up for Gmail realizing that my email would be scanned for advertising purposes. Google offers a compelling enough service that I simply can't back away from it. If humans were reading the email, I'd be packing up and looking elsewhere, however.
What tends to bother me more is Google's ability to track what you do online. If you visit Newegg to eye a product, then go to some website that has Adsense ad placements, you're likely to see advertising for that product you just looked at. This, to me, is even scarier than the company's insistence to automatically scan your email - you don't even need to be a Google user for this to happen.
Nonetheless, it's going to be interesting to see where this class action lawsuit winds up. It's going to be difficult for Google to prove that it needs to scan user email when other providers can get by just fine without it.