'Gmail Man' Snoops In Messages, Targets Ads

Consumer advocates have hoped for a long time that Web companies would compete with each other to offer better privacy protections, but so far that's been slow to happen.

One notable exception occurred in 2008, when Yahoo slashed the length of time it held data tying users' IP addresses to their queries to just 90 days. But several months ago the company backtracked and said it will retain the IP logs for 18 months.

Now, an anti-Google video has surfaced that specifically takes aim at Gmail on privacy grounds. The clip, available on YouTube and other sites, shows "Gmail Man" snooping in people's emails in order to figure out which ads to serve them.

The video hawks Microsoft's Office 365, but it's not yet clear whether the clip will be part of an official ad effort. Regardless, it's drawing considerable attention. "If nothing else, the attack video makes a compelling case for going with Office 365 instead," writes Mashable.

Though Google is facing litigation about ads in email, for the most part the controversy surrounding online privacy doesn't involve the type of contextual targeting used to serve Gmail ads. Instead, the current debate is focused on privacy issues raised when companies track users as they browse the Internet. Still, the clip -- and the response it's generated -- shows that privacy concerns continue to resonate with Web user.

1 comment about "'Gmail Man' Snoops In Messages, Targets Ads ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Rick Vidallon from VISIONEFX WEB DESIGN, July 29, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.

    The only way we are going to get completely secure is to go back to typewriters and carbon paper. Digital information will always be in harms way.

Next story loading loading..