Resist-GMail Blog

  • May 24, 2005: A reader wrote:
    I took your good advice and cancelled my gmail account.  I have sent a few emails to the old address to see if I’d get a message back that the account was closed.  None of my emails are coming back to me.  Where do the emails go in the cancelled account?  Are they stacking up with no way for me to read them?  Are people still emailing me thinking I’m not responding or does gmail send their emails back to them to let them know?  Can you help me, as I think some of my friends think they are still emailing to a current account. 
    I am very heartened that you are joining the GMail resistance.  I have never dealt with a GMail account, so I don't know what is going on with them in this case.  Standard Internet protocol is for the postmaster at an ISP to bounce emails from cancelled accounts back to their senders, unless the cancelled account has set up e-mail forwarding, which is usually a service for a limited time.

    I have read that GMail makes the user go through a number of hurdles to delete email, and that it may not actually be deleted from GMail's storage — that they may keep your deleted emails so that they have a better commercial profile on you.  So, I don't know if GMail has set up similar hurdles to actually canceling accounts.

    I think you'll just have to go back to GMail's Web site and see if you can get some customer service response on this.

  • On June 9, 2005, a reader wrote:
    Just stumbled over your warnings against Gmail. What's the big deal? I think Gmail is terrific. Are you afraid of the man in the Moon too :-)
    It doesn't matter whether you use Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo or whatever - ever heard about Echelon? All traffic on the Internet is monitored by the CIA and others, by the way - hello guys if you're watching or listening - if you have a clean consciensce, you have nothing to fear.
    GMail may be terrific for you, but it isn't for me.  I don't want to give my words to a 3rd party for commercial purposes when I write you.

    It's not fear, it's an abhorrence of the commercialization of private relations.

    I hate commercials.

    I especially hate commercials that use my private communications without my consent.

    The main point of my essay was not on the privacy issue, but on the commercialization aspect. 

     As to the privacy issue, though, and Echelon, the United States has a very important limit on the power of government, embedded as Amendment 2 to the Constitution:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    E-mail would fall under “effects” I suppose. If the CIA is reading my e-mail without probable cause and without a warrant, they are violating the Constitution, which the agency is sworn to uphold.
  • On October 19, 2005, a reader wrote:
    I am writing this with much regret, as I should have known better than just to accept Google's "Terms and Conditions" prior to my reading them entirely.  However the horse is now out the barn and I am concerned with respect to my privacy.  Upon signing up for gmail I suspect I have already rendered myself vulnerable and that Google is a crafty company in this regard.  

    I signed up today and in order to do so, I have sacrificed the privacy of my cell phone number, and my Yahoo email address.  As you probably are aware Google requires that they text message via cell phone your ID sign up number.  Well they now have my cell number to send text advertisements spams, at my cost, as text messaging is billed by the kilobits of messages sent and received via one's cell phone.  Just think what the value of millions of cell phone numbers are worth to advertisers. What is a cell phone directory worth?  Nice business model here.  Nothing seems to be sacred.  To me looking back, this is a dirty little trick.  This is exposure number one.  

    Exposure number two; since signing up today, I have noticed that I have received 80+ spam messages, usually I get 8-10 a day on Yahoo mail.  Could it be that as soon as I gave Google my 'email address' in the event that Google needed to contact me in case they experienced an outage on gmail, this is how they put it.  This email was an optional sacrifice of privacy.  I fell for it.  Do I think that Google spread my Yahoo email address to known spammers?  Yes, I do.  A ten fold increase in spam is not a coincidence. Is this how Google plans to compete with Yahoo?  Sadly, perhaps so. 

      The process of opening a gmail account was filled with so many tip offs to me.  Having spent the better part of my career in IT technology, Lord knows I should have known better.  I feel that Google is exploiting their brand equity and that they will lose equity in the brand quickly, if they continue on the same path with gmail.   

    I hope for the shareholders sake that they do not kill the goose that laid the golden egg.  Exxon had the Valdez; gmail as it is now configured will sink Google.  

    Thank you for your concern and for the good work that you are doing.

  • On October 23, 2005, a reader wrote:
    I'm using several gmail accounts right now, and I can tell you from experience, the ads aren't the issue, they're inobtrusive, and by that I mean -really- inobtrusive, I didn't even notice them until some time ago, and it's no effort at all to block them out (of your mind) and better yet, it's a 3-link per page limit. But enough advertising for the enemy though.

    There is of course, still the issue with the data being stored forever on their servers, ready for the american government to harvest. I know this, and expect this to be the case for every single internet service powered by america, and so I don't use it to send or receive incriminating evidence about my person, and if I would, I'd encrypt it and suggest every mail user do so for all their communications.

    I'm not going to lie here, I download lots of illegal stuff off the web. My justification for this is that I don't have enough money to make any kind of special purchase, and the only things I'm good at involve using that very software. My opinions might very well be flagged by several agencies as being "dangerous". So that'd mean I need to steer clear of the likes of the google syndication when performing the act of advocating them online.

    But my point is that they provide way too good a service, and have a way too convincing a PR-department to defeat just by putting up some pages with the pure and simple truth about them. You have to beat them at their own game, make a better or equal quality site that offers the same, only without the poison. Only then can you get the message through. I'm not saying you in person should, but you might want to consider it. I am saying SOMEONE should, and they'd better get a move on too, because everything they state is subject to change, and changes can occur quite rapidly, quite unnoticably, and on mass with a company as resourceful as google is right now.

    And ofcourse, it goes without saying that just having the motto "don't be evil" doesn't at all mean, or even incline that you're not doing evil things. That's the beauty of having people to make up your slogans.

  • On October 23, 2005, a reader wrote:
    Interesting reading, although I wonder whether you are getting a different version of Gmail than I am. The reader on October 19 wrote about the adverts being unobtrusive, I can go one further and say that they aren't there in mine. Not a single advert appears on any of the pages.

    Even sending a loaded email to myself failed to elicit anything. Nor did I require a cellphone number to sign up. The email address that I used was a throwaway Yahoo one, which I find more annoying due to the convuluted process to get to your mail, send mail and navigate the home page. If there is a worse example of a confusing "trying to do everything" site than yahoo's, I haven't found it.

    On the plus side there is a simple tool that turns your Gmail account into a drive accessable from your computer. I have found this invaluable for quick online storage of odd documents and the like, especially if they are to be emailed later. Since all email (unless you encypt it) is open to be scanned as it travels around the web (in fact you have no control over who's servers it passes through either), if security is your concern then taking the standard simple precautions makes sense no matter which email provider or webmail you use.

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