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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students need to research, learn online privacy rights

    As students at the UA access their CatMail accounts, which are powered by Google, they may be surprised to find Google admits that non-Gmail users who email those with Gmail accounts have “no legitimate expectation of privacy,” as stated in a recent lawsuit.

    This so-called breach in privacy has infuriated some, such as Consumer Watchdog, a group that advocates for the change of political and consumer injustices. However, Google is within its legal rights, because Gmail users agree to Google’s privacy policy when they sign up for their accounts. Outrage at Google for not providing privacy to non-Gmail users is misplaced.

    Nowadays, modern technology makes privacy almost non-existent, and Google isn’t invading anyone’s privacy more than companies in other industries already do.Car dealerships check citizens’ credit scores and photographers get paid to follow a celebrity on her morning coffee run.

    However, all of this is considered socially acceptable and even normal. As credit card holders, we agree to share these scores and our personal information, and celebrities assume the spotlight of the public’s eye.

    As Gmail users, we must also accept this reality.When Gmail users access their account, it’s common to see spam messages and ads that strangely resemble specific services or companies that users are interested in. Google clearly warns users how they will be accessing their information and why they do so, which can be described in one word — marketing.

    Google’s Privacy Policy states, “We collect information to provide better services to all of our users — from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful or the people who matter most to you online.”

    The policy explains that Google uses the data to help them gather specific information its users might find useful. Additionally, the UA directs CatMail users to this policy via their CatMail disclaimer page. Google had about 425 million users in June 2012 and they all agreed to these privacy terms and conditions; therefore they cannot take legal action against Google.

    Privacy advocate groups that oppose Google’s information collection policies urge users to abandon Google’s services, which is a better solution than starting groundless lawsuits. Better still, assuming nothing in this world is truly private anymore, both Google users and non-Google users can simply change their online behavior and take caution when using Gmail.

    Yes, there are Intellectual Property rights that users have to help protect their privacy on the Internet, but we sign many of these rights away when we don’t read the fine print.

    What Google does is just business, and it’s absolutely legal. Users shouldn’t be outraged by Google’s remarks regarding privacy. Online users need to either start reading the fine print, being selective in which services they choose to utilize, or simply consider the consequences of their online behavior and adjust accordingly.

    George Orwell was right when he wrote in “1984”, “Big Brother is watching you,” and as online users, by checking “I agree to these terms and conditions,” we allow him to be watching.

    Ashley T. Powell is a senior studying journalism. Follow her at Twitter.com/@ashleytaylar.

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