Facts About Email Privacy

Do you know and understand the risks you are putting yourself in whenever you use a free email account like those provided by Yahoo! and Google? Chances are, you do not read the terms of service or privacy policy of the free email provider. Read the following article and find out what risks you are getting yourself into once you become an email subscriber to a free email provider.

Since emails came to that point where it became a major form of communication nowadays, many subscribers in websites offering free email accounts do not fully understand the consequences of their membership in such email providers. That’s because they just click away when presented with the terms of use, terms of service, or privacy policy.

Email subscribers enjoy the services for free. But is it really free? In reality, this works symbiotically, that is, free email providers benefit from a user’s membership. There is no such thing as free lunch.

So how could email providers benefit from the services that they offer free to internet users? There’s a lot to be gained by these companies from their email subscribers. You get that mistaken notion that whenever you log-in with your encrypted password you have email privacy.

You may be thinking that you are doing something in private and that nobody sees what you are doing. Indeed, your behaviour is tracked and studied by the company where you opened a free email account. Email privacy is not what you think.

The author examined the terms of service (TOS) of Yahoo! Mail and Google’s Gmail, two of the well-known free email providers, to find out the extent of email privacy provided by these companies. See if you really have email privacy upon reading the following:

Email Privacy Point #1. Personal information is collected.

Personal information by the free email provider whenever you do the following:

  1. Upon registration with the email provider,
  2. Whenever you use products or services,
  3. Whenever you visit the company’s pages or the pages of their partners, and
  4. Whenever you join promotions or sweepstakes.

Your personal information is now under disposal by the free email provider. They may use this information whatever they deem fit such as in combination with their business partners or other companies that they work with.

Email Privacy Point #2. You are not anonymous to the email service provider and hackers.

You should know full well that unlike paid email providers who emphasize the security of its subscribers, free email providers like Yahoo! and Google gather data about you. Typically, they will ask you to provide the following information about your personal circumstances:

  1. Name,
  2. Email addresses,
  3. Birth date,
  4. Gender,
  5. Location through the zip code,
  6. Occupation,
  7. Hobbies or personal interests,
  8. The industry where you work,
  9. Address,
  10. Social security number,
  11. Credit card,
  12. The language that you speak,
  13. Information about your transactions,
  14. Information about your assets,
  15. Your photo,
  16. Your buying behaviour, and
  17. How much you earn.

These are not actually all the information being asked. They may even ask you to provide your cellphone number to trace your itineraries and transactions.

Do you really have email privacy with all these information provided? You are now exposed to hackers who can use your information for their malicious intent. You’ll discover one day that you could no longer access your email account because somebody hungry for money took over your personal communications and get to know your financial status which they can exploit.

Email Privacy Point #3. You cannot surf anonymously and keep your privacy.

Whenever you open your email, you provide the following information to your email provider:

  1. Your IP address,
  2. The sites that you have visited,
  3. Your computer’s operating system,
  4. The hardware you are using,
  5. Your browser, and
  6. The page that you are seeking and the day and time you accessed it.

All these information are stored in free email providers’ servers for retrieval or analysis for some objective. So how are these information used? This could be for commercial purposes, site management or even intelligence purposes.

The information you provided is used to entice you to buy products or services based on your inclinations or preferences. See those ads before you log-in or even after you log-in your email. This is the reason why you sometimes get some email from people or companies you don’t know or have not contacted. Aside from commercial purposes, the information you provide are also provided for intelligence purposes on those cases the government so requires.

There are many other uses that the free email provider can figure out for your information. You are just a statistic that serves the interest of the free email provider along with their clients and other interested parties. Just be sure you do not fall victim to scammers and hackers who will most likely circumvent the free email providers’ security system and compromise your privacy.

©2012 July 22 Patrick A. Regoniel

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Teresa Conti
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Posted on Jul 21, 2012