For years, Benjamin Mako Hill has paid to host his own mail, as a measure to enhance his privacy and independence from big companies. But a bit of clever analysis of his stored mail reveals that despite this expense and effort, he is a Gmail user, because so many of his correspondents are Gmail users and store copies of his messages with Google. And thanks to an archaic US law, any message left on Gmail for more than six months can be requested by police without a warrant, as it is considered "abandoned."
Mako has posted the script he used to calculate how much of his correspondence ends up in Google's hands.
I host my own mail, too. I'm really looking forward to Mailpile, which should make this process a lot easier, and also make keeping all my mail encrypted simpler. Knowing that Google has a copy of my correspondence is a lot less worrisome if they can't read it (though it's still not an ideal situation).
The answer is surprisingly large. Despite the fact that I spend hundreds of dollars a year and hours of work to host my own email server, Google has about half of my personal email! Last year, Google delivered 57% of the emails in my inbox that I replied to. They have delivered more than a third of all the email I’ve replied to ever year since 2006 and more than half since 2010. On the upside, there is some indication that the proportion is going down. So far this year, only 51% of the emails I’ve replied to arrived from Google.
The numbers are higher than I imagined and reflect somewhat depressing news. They show how it’s complicated to think about privacy and autonomy for communication between parties. I’m not sure what to do except encourage others to consider, in the wake of the Snowden revelations and everything else, whether you really want Google to have all your email. And half of mine.
Google Has Most of My Email Because It Has All of Yours
Last week, an employee of a Starbucks in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco, found a tiny digital camera hidden in a bathroom air freshener. At the time of the police statement below, they hadn’t determined whether the camera had wireless connectivity. This particular Starbucks is a bustling hangout for kids from the […]
From 6PM-730PM this Thursday, May 23, I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what […]
Economist international editor Edward Lucas devotes 4,000+ words in the new issue of Foreign Policy to the changing landscape of state espionage in the 21st century; it's not particularly well-organized (if there's a reason for the order in which his thoughts are laid out, I couldn't find it), but despite that, it's well worth a […]
Heads up: The clock is winding down on a free-entry contest to win not only one of the best smartphones on the market but a handy pair of earbuds. A simple sign-up is all you need to be eligible to win a 256 GB iPhone XS Max, along with AirPods. And while “free” is tough […]
Kudos to those of us who have chosen a less wasteful third option to “paper or plastic” at the supermarket or club stores. Tote bags are reusable, but they can be a pain to tote around. Here’s an upgrade to that planet-saving measure. The Club Cart Lotus Trolley Bag is that rare tote you’ll want […]
Looking for a career in IT, gaming or software development? In the ever-changing world of the internet, versatility is your biggest asset. In other words, mastering Java might not cut it in an interview if you don’t know C#. However, there’s a bundle that covers the essentials in most any language. The Legendary Learn to […]