Google: we will invade your privacy

In a blunt admission in a brief filed recently in federal court, lawyers for Google said people have no expectation of privacy when they send messages to a Gmail account.

Google’s brief said: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’

A highly redacted version of the complaint was filed publicly.

Yahoo joins Google: We want to stalk Americans for 18 months

Yahoo has announced that it will join Google in stalking Americans electronically in some form for 18 months (Yahoo had in 2008 reduced the amount of time it retained users’ Internet search data to a mere 90 days). Yahoo plans to extend the retention period this summer. Retained search data will include user’s IP addresses and cookies, which means data can be linked to individual devices or people. After 18 months, Yahoo will retain most of the data, but anonymize it so it cannot be linked to individuals.

Google has a slight variation in their policy which is being misreported in wake of this story: From Google: “We believe anonymizing IP addresses after 9 months and cookies in our search engine logs after 18 months strikes the right balance.” Stalkers do have some sense of decorum after all.