Does Google watch us every cyber second of the day?

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Did you know when you use Gmail, Google’s email service, the company scans the content of your emails and the email addresses of your correspondents?  Google’s Gmail system also scans your incoming emails, even the ones coming from Yahoo and Hotmail.

If you feel safe because you’ve deleted emails you regretted sending, think again. Google never erases its own copies, even copies of the drafts you decided not to send – even copies of incomplete messages you didn’t save as drafts. And then there are those Google servers, which route the emails of thousands of companies that apparently don’t mind running the risk that their emails will be scanned. So whether you use Gmail itself, write to someone who uses Gmail, or, in many cases, simply email, Google’s gotcha.

Is all this tracking legal? Here is what a Google executive might say: “We are protected by our Terms of Service agreement, which in turn incorporates our Privacy Policy – legally binding contracts that are easy to access on our website.

Yes, we realize that almost no one has ever read these documents, but, hey, no one ever reads their mortgage documents or credit card contracts either, and they’re certainly valid. Our agreement states that when you use any of our products or services – even if you’re not aware you are using them – you agree to let us track you. It’s that simple.”

In other words – silly us – we give Google permission to track us simply by engaging in activities (the great “free’ email account) that allowed it to track us.

The terms of service agreement also says that the information you give the company “and those we work with” (who’s that, exactly?) can be used for almost any purpose. And the privacy policy states that Google can share your dossier with just about any individual or agency based on the company’s “good faith belief” that doing so is required by law or, incredibly, that doing so will “protect…the rights, property or safety of Google.”

What do you guys think? Are we watched every cyber second of the day?

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