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60秒科学:Are Google’s E-mail Scans Wiretapping?


60秒科学节目(SSS)是科学美国人网站的一套广播栏目,英文名称:Scientific American – 60 Second Science,节目内容以科学报道为主,节目仅一分钟的时间,主要对当今的科学技术新发展作以简明、通俗的介绍,对于科学的发展如何影响人们的生活环境、健康状况及科学技术,提供了大量简明易懂的阐释。

Most of us are unlikely to be the target of a wiretap. Although that assumption depends on how you define “wiretap.”

A group of e-mail users are claiming that, when Google scans Gmails looking for ways to serve customized ads to Gmail users and create user profiles, it’s wiretapping. Some of these claimants are Gmail users, but many are non-Gmail users who correspond with people who use Gmail addresses.

The lawsuit says that non-Gmailers never agreed to have their e-mails intercepted and scanned by Google.

The company tried to get the case tossed. A U.S. district judge did throw out claims that Google violated state privacy laws. But the judge allowed the federal wiretapping case to proceed.

Google can defend itself by proving it needs to scan messages to provide its e-mail service. Or it can ask non-Gmail users for permission to keep doing what it already does.

Not exactly the stuff of a Hollywood spy thriller. Still, in this era of NSA whistleblowing and Wikileaks maybe people are starting to wonder about the privacy costs of “free” e-mail.

—Larry Greenemeier


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