Online policy primer

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Net 303 Assignment 3: Online Policy Primer

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Online policy primer

  1. 1. Online Policy Primer<br />Gmail Terms and Conditions<br />Sean Guo<br />
  2. 2. Gmail- Google’s Email<br />Gmail is free to sign up and offers its user a hefty 1GB worth of storage space.<br />Founded in 2004, was made available to general public a few years later. <br />Gmail have grown exponentially to over 400 million users by 2009, with approximately 175 million active monthly users.<br />Backed by the top search engine on the planet, Gmail is one of the most popular free email provider around.<br />So what are you waiting for? Go on and sign up for a Gmail account...<br />
  3. 3. Register with Gmail<br />The sign up process is simple enough, it should not take any longer than 3 minutes to create your account.<br />The final step of registration requires the users to accept the Google’s “terms of service”, as well as “Program Policy” and “Privacy Policy” before they can finalise their registration. <br />Question: How many Gmail users have actually gone through the entire “Terms of Service”, understood and accept it before they created their account?<br />My guess is not many.<br />
  4. 4. Gmail TAC (Terms and Conditions)<br />The Terms and Conditions covers:<br />Legal Policies-<br />Intellectual Property Rights<br />Privacy Policies-<br />Personal Information<br />Uses<br />Information sharing and onward transfer<br />Your choice<br />More information<br />Program Policies- <br />Prohibited Actions<br />Security<br />Account inactivity<br />
  5. 5. Termination of account<br />If you are found to be in violation of our policies at any time, as determined by Google in its sole discretion, we may warn you or suspend or terminate your account.<br /> Users are prohibited from: <br />Generate or facilitate unsolicited commercial email ("spam").<br />Any unlawful, defamatory, harassing, abusive, fraudulent, infringing, obscene, or otherwise objectionable content<br />Spread viruses<br />Forward pyramid schemes<br />Illegally transmit another's intellectual property or other proprietary information without such owner's or licensor's permission <br />Violate legal rights or encourage illegal activity<br />Unauthorised commercial purposes, ie illegal peer to peer file sharing.<br /> Google may terminate your account in accordance with the terms of service if you fail to login to your account for a period of nine months. <br />
  6. 6. Gmail TAC - The Good <br /> Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content, including any text, data, information, images, photographs, music, sound, video, or other material, that you upload, transmit or store in your Gmail account.<br /> This means the user is the rightful owner of all the contents in their account. Google do not have any rights to own any of the contents.<br />Unfortunately, this is where the good news end...<br />
  7. 7. Gmail TAC - The Bad<br />When you use Gmail, Google's servers automatically record certain information about your use of Gmail. <br /> Similar to other web services, Google records information such as: <br />account activity (including storage usage, number of log-ins), <br />data displayed or clicked on (including UI elements, ads, links); <br />and other log information (including browser type, IP-address, date and time of access, cookie ID, and referrer URL).<br /> Gmail will automatically record information relates to user’s online usage pattern. Although Gmail do not own any of the user’s email contents, the system in place can still monitor everything the users do while they are on Gmail.<br />
  8. 8. Gmail TAC - The Bad Cont.<br />The Gmail service includes relevant advertising and related links based on the IP address, content of messages and other information related to your use of Gmail.<br /> Advertising- the bread and butter of any commercial online services.<br /> Not only do Gmail monitors your online activities, they also offer “relevant” advertisements according to these activities. <br />
  9. 9. Gmail TAC- The Bad Cont.<br /> We provide advertisers only aggregated non-personal information such as the number of times one of their ads was clicked. <br /> Your web browsing habit is “provided” aka sold to advertisers for more revenue.<br /> More subtle and effective than outright spam or random banner ads as it is “relevant” to the user, therefore more chance of them clicking it.<br />
  10. 10. Gmail TAC- The Ugly<br />Google's computers process the information in your messages for various purposes, including formatting and displaying the information to you, delivering advertisements and related links, preventing unsolicited bulk email (spam), backing up your messages, and other purposes relating to offering you Gmail.<br /> Gmail can not only monitor and record your usage patterns, they can see EVERYTHING in your account, there is no privacy.<br /> Even though Gmail highlight the reasons behind their actions, i.e. preventing spam. <br /> What about people who are not members of Gmail sending emails to Gmail accounts, is it a violation of their rights if Gmail scans their email even if they never agree to the TOS of Google?<br />
  11. 11. Gmail TAC - The Ugly Cont.<br /> Residual copies of deleted messages and accounts may take up to 60 days to be deleted from our active servers and may remain in our offline backup systems.<br /> Even if you decide to terminate your Gmail account, all your information previously stored in Gmail will still be in the system.<br /> Gmail is VERY unclear on just how long they intent to keep past user’s information, or what they plan to do with these information.<br /> Everything you store on Gmail will stay in the Google system INDEFINITELY.<br /> I guess they do “own” your personal information after all...<br />
  12. 12. Issues to Consider<br />Who REALLY “own” the content in Gmail? The user or Gmail?<br /> Does Ownership even matter since Gmail have the ability to scan and redistribute user information to third party when they don’t “technically” owns the contents?<br /> Do you really know where your personal information might end up? <br /> What if the automatic ad matching system interprets your information wrongly and in turn land you in hot water?<br /> Would the case of the “GCreep” (Chen, 2010) be a one off or will it happen again in the future?<br />Give these questions some thoughts before you click on that “I accept. Create my account” button<br />
  13. 13. References<br />Chen, A (2010) GCreep: Google engineer stalked teens, spied on chats. Retrieved from http://www.defamer.com.au/2010/09/gcreep-google-engineer-stalked-teens-spied-on-chats/<br />Gmail: Google’s approach to email (2010) Gmail Terms Retrieved from http://www.google.com/mail/help/terms.html<br />Google press centre (n.d.) Google gets the message, Launches Gmail. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/gmail.html<br />Gmail Privacy Page: FAQs (2004) Retrieved from http://epic.org/privacy/gmail/faq.html<br />Kuchinskas, S (2005) Endless Gmail Storage: Google will up storage for web mail users indefinitely. Retrieved from http://www.internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/3494491<br />Rasch, M (2004) Google’s Gmail: Spook’s Heaven? Keyword scrambles black helicopters. Enterprise Security, Retrieved from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/15/gmail_spook_heaven/<br />Vescellaro. J (2010) Gmail too, seeks to rival Facebook. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703630404575053480962942848.html<br />

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