Gmail users, and anyone sending them an email, should be wary of who may be viewing your personal content. In an ongoing court case, Google has, on the record, stated that they have a legal right to scan emails in order to improve their ability to advertise to consumers. Internet privacy advocate organization Consumer Watchdog doesn't agree, as I'm sure many of you don't, and so filed a lawsuit against the internet mogul in May specifically attacking this violation of internet privacy. Thus far, it may be a losing battle, as Google still holds to its legal right to scan emails.
So what does Google scanning emails really entail? According to Google, they "use the information we collect s to provide, maintain, protect and improve [Google services]...and to protect Google and our users" and also use this info to create user-tailored advertisements and search results. Now this all sounds peachy, but the potential results could cause some issues.
For one, most people think of emails as a private thing. People don't really think of an email as a piece of information open to the public. Google has stated that no human being actually surveys email information, a program simply scans for recurrent words and phrases. A likely statement to put people at ease, but for the moment, lets hope for the best and assume its correct because there are still a few major issues in having your emails scanned for content.
Hypothetically speaking, lets say your into some weird stuff, like leather/S&M stuff, that you don't generally share with your friends and family. The only people you do share it with are "friends" on the internet, those in certain subreddits, chatrooms, and the like. Now theres nothing wrong with that, but you do use your Gmail account to send around specific links. The friendly Gmail robo-email scanner notices this, picks up on the trend, and assumes your internet interest is public knowledge. Now the next time someone accesses an internet browser where your signed in as a user, a not-so-wanted ad for the latest in latex rubber suits pops up. The result? An akward conversation or you finding a likely excuse. So much for privacy.
A pretty hypoethical situation, granted, but not an entirely unlikely one. The real issue is that no one, save Google, really knows what the information if being used for. Combine this with the fact that Google is literally mapping the world, and you have what pretty much looks like the onset of 1984 or even Terminator-type plot, where one organization, using technology, keeps tabs on everyone on the planet. Now I'm not saying Google plans to do this, but really, whats stopping them? Not the court of law apparently.