View Full Version : OT: Free E-Mail And Privacy

Paul Alciatore
06-01-2008, 06:27 PM
I am thinking about setting up one of those free e-mail accounts with Google or Yahoo or some such. But I am wondering about privacy. Anyone have any experience or knowledge in this area.

06-01-2008, 07:14 PM
I have had my Hotmail account for years and have had no problems, I only give it out to friends and family. I also have a Yahoo account that I use if I need to register with a web site or such, it gets a lot of junk-mail.
I haven't had any privacy problems, but they are kind of public accounts.
The good part is, change service providers fairly often and don't have to change my email address that everyone knows.

06-01-2008, 07:25 PM
I use Gmail. It does seem to know "certain" things that are typical of google, and in line with what google does.

As far as privacy goes? As far as Gmail, I can only assume there isn't any.

So I use it accordingly.

06-01-2008, 07:44 PM
I've been using Gmail for a while now and I have *NEVER* received any Spam in my Inbox. They've got some pretty good Spam filters in place.

Quetico Bob
06-01-2008, 07:48 PM
Nothing in life is "free" seems there is a value to an email address. Every time I sign up for something, more junk mail. And I'm cautious, think I've handed out my email address maybe 3 times this past year and yikes, the junk! Last time was to sony cause I needed a manual. Never know who's going to sell it for a few penny's.
Cheers, Bob

Paul Alciatore
06-02-2008, 12:35 AM
I wasn't so worried about SPAM as about what Google or Yahoo or the Hotmail people might do with the information in the messages I send and recieve. I read their policies and left completely confused. Their lawyers can be proud.

06-02-2008, 12:48 AM
I have a Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, Aol and Verizon account, with several user names under each account..

As far as "privacy" goes its only going to be as private as you want it. You want it real locked down and private, only email to one person. I have some accounts that are like that. I dont get any spam on those.

I have a hotmail account that I will give out freely to whatever web page, I get tons of spam on it...

You still have to control who you give the address to... JR

06-02-2008, 01:17 AM
I use Gmail and it works great. One of the few free ones that supports IMAP protocol which allows me to keep all me email straight between my home mac and my iphone. When I read a email on my mac it is marked as read on the iphone and vice-versa. Also marked as read if I go the the web gmail.

Gmail is as private as any other service. If you want true privacy send your messages encrypted.

06-02-2008, 02:22 AM
I do the same as Jrouche, and smiller6912

My yahoo address is my 'regular' email, use hotmail as a spam cache.
I did keep two hotmail accounts, had them since before hotmail was microsoft, but they changd hotmail and I just don't care for the new format at all, (tuned it up for the kiddies it seems) so closed the one account and use the remaining one for potential spam.
Hotmail doesn't seem to catch spam for crap any more, I've added my own yahoo address to the spam filter, and every single time I tried it goes right through like it was on the approved list.

Of Google, Hotmail, and Yahoo, I think the Yahoo is the most 'functional' things marked spam end up in the spam folder, and settings you make are kept through log-on/off.

Always seemed to be pretty secure too. For hotmail, all you have to do is click 'forgot my password' enter the security code, and you're in.


Paul Alciatore
06-04-2008, 12:39 AM
So with Gmail, can you download the mail to your own e-mail program and send mail from there? I am kind of partial to Eudora.

06-04-2008, 01:42 AM
A good test of email privacy and gmail: Open an account - they're free. Then send mail to a friend and start up a conversation about how hot to buy a particular thing you are. For example, a kitchen appliance or new roof, or some other top dollar item. Keep the conversation going for a while, mention prices, colors, what ever. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Google ads on pages you visit and see how long it takes for the ads to converge on the item of interest you discussed in the email. Normally the ads will converge on your topic rather quickly.

I'd be interested in knowing what else they're doing with what they know from reading the mail. There's a reason they're in the data business.

06-04-2008, 03:46 AM
So with Gmail, can you download the mail to your own e-mail program and send mail from there? I am kind of partial to Eudora.

Yes Gmail works well with your favorite email prog, it's the main reason I tried it out. from what I understand it can be easily accessed through a phone.
I tried a couple different progs to use gmail, but figure since I'm online I may as well read it on the web.


06-04-2008, 03:59 AM
Gmail supports POP and IMAP for mail protocols. Just pop in the needed info in eudora or whatever and you never need to log into gmail via web again.

Big deal, so it looks at keywords as it display the email and directs ads that might interest you. Not really an privacy issue in my mind. Not like a human is reading it. No worse than using the search engine. Every time you search for something you IP address is recorded. Unless you are using a Proxy Server they can track down where you are.

06-04-2008, 08:53 AM
E-mail privacy is an oxymoron. Unless you routinely encrypt your e-mail it can be interecepted and read at any step in the system exactly the same as a postcard in snail mail.

Unless you are using a Proxy Server they can track down where you are.
Not necessarily. I am on satellite and my ip belongs to the Toronto area. There is no formal allocation of IP addresses to actual physical location. The only reason it is possible to track it is because large databases have been developed using "snoopware" to figure out where major service providers have been allocating their address blocks.

06-04-2008, 03:35 PM
I'm on board with Evan, et al. with this.

The internet doesn't have any guaranteed rights of any kind - the same place you can download images illegal in 90 countries and copyrighted music and movies is probably not the place to be expecting a whole lot of privacy or security without some serious work.

You can use ANY e-mail provider for secure email provided you download the messages locally with your own client, and use something like gnupg for encryption. If this is too much work, then you didn't need the security in the first place.

06-04-2008, 03:50 PM
If all you are trying to do is hide your mail from an automated system such as Google then the answer is both trivial and relatively painless. Just take a screen shot of the text composed in your favorite word processor and attach the image to your mail. The print screen key will grab the screen image and lacking anything else you can paste it into MS PAINt. Then save it and send.

The automated email scanning system could be set up to read text in an image but it is highly unlikely that they are.

06-04-2008, 04:02 PM
The automated email scanning system could be set up to read text in an image but it is highly unlikely that they are.

Because of image spam, many sites, including all of mine, have OCR software read image attachments as the mail comes in. If I can do it certainly Google can do it.


Once it's scanned the resulting text, assuming there is any, is available for further processing.

06-04-2008, 04:53 PM

06-04-2008, 05:38 PM
One of the funnier anti-spam work arounds I have seen spammers come up with involves CAPTCHA technology - those sites that require the visitor to type in the contents of a scrambled image before the site will accept content for publishing. The thinking is a human can read it but a machine cannot. So how the spammers got around it was to create a link to the victim site's CAPTCHA in real time to their own, and if their visitor was able to solve it, they'd get free porno pictures. And of course in the background, with the CAPTCHA solved, the porn site's code would upload spam to the blog or bbs that hosted the original CAPTCHA. So perhaps a machine cannot read hand writing (they can, but is it worth it?), but if the need is there at least the spammers will find a way :)

06-04-2008, 07:35 PM
That isn't really handwriting BTW. It's a handwriting font so it is just as easy to use as any other font and you don't have to use the handwriting font while composing. There are numerous fonts that can't be machine read while still remaining reasonably easy for humans to read. Scene, shape recognition and anything else to do with the visual system is the domain of the brain and will remain so for a long time. It's going to take more than just processing power to equal the human brain in that task. It probably requires actual intelligence since in many cases it requires arriving at the most likely correct conclusion from insufficient information.

06-05-2008, 08:04 PM
I have used yaho email as my primary email address for 10 years now. I have moved 4 times (coast to coast) in that time period, and maintaining the same email address has been a real benefit.

I like the spam filtering benefits of yahoo. I also like that they let you make temporary email addresses that you can use for common subscriptions to listservers, merchant accounts, etc. You can see what merchants are farming out your email address to other vendors, and delete one of these temporary addresses whenever you want to.

Privacy? Not really concerned about it. If someone wants to read your email, they can unless you encrypt your messages, which is a PIA and I bet 99.9999% of people don't know how or don't bother. I believe that yahoo email is just as secure as any local ISP's email (which is to say: totally insecure). I seriously doubt that yahoo runs word searches on your email to target you with advertising; that sort of activity could open them up to seriously bad publicity, reduced share prices (!), and possibly lawsuits.

06-05-2008, 10:12 PM
There are two different issues here: email privacy, and online profiling.

Google is one of the few (only?) free email providers that scans the contents of your inbound and outbound email and adds it to the global Google profile of you.

I'm subscribed to a rock climbing mailing list through my Gmail account, and I get spam with rock climbing and outdoor equipment.

Yahoo, Excite, and all the other free email services that I've tried don't do that.