Dave Winer Regarding Gmail Privacy: “I Wonder If They Look?”

Who is Dave Winer? Dave Winer is an expert technologist and one of the most important blogging Web 2.0 pioneers in history. He is also the man who takes on Google in “Google did something seriously wrong” a scathing report on Google’s rollout of Buzz and subsequent privacy breach. The following are excerpts, questions, and assertions from Dave that are difficult to ignore.

Google Buzz: What Happened?

“When Google rolled out Buzz last week they activated an unknown number of users and chose people for them to follow automatically based on who they email most frequently with. Presumably these people had to also be on Gmail. And the list of people you follow is public.” What does this mean?

  • The list of people you email with most frequently is now public
  • Google is trying to “close this hole as quickly as possible but the damage is done”

What Should Google Do Now?

  • Apologize: this requires a “CEO-level apology and statement of contrition”
  • Policy: “an explanation of what policies he’s (CEO) putting in place to be sure this never happens again

Tough Questions

  • What if it were Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s privacy?
  • Does Schmidt use Gmail?
  • If Schmidt uses Gmail, did Google publicly reveal who he most frequently emails?

Ramifications of Google’s Privacy Ignorance

Revealing who Eric Schmidt and the average person emails most frequently could cause problems with:

  • “Stock Market” issues
  • “SEC”
  • Business “partners”
  • Personal Relationships with wives
  • Adversaries “despots”
  • “Girlfriends”

Our Business Life Compromised?

In business or in our personal life, people examining the list of people we most often email might get the wrong idea. “Or they might get the right idea.” Who we email could be very damaging to our business if examined by our competition

Dave Winer: Does Google Read My Email?

“Sometimes as I’m entering a message into Gmail, I wonder if the ethics of Google prohibit them from reading the mail. Sometimes I email with execs at companies that compete with Google. I think “They’d probably like to know this.” I wonder if they look?”

Is The American Press Holding Google Accountable?

According to Winer they are not holding Google’s feet to the fire and asking the tough questions. In a relevant and thought provoking statement by Michael Gartenberg on Twitter on February 13th:

“If Microsoft released Buzz the way Google did, the lawsuits would have already started”

We all have those kinds of concerns. People might get the wrong idea if they saw the list of people I email most frequently. Or they might get the right idea. Permalink to this paragraphSometimes as I’m entering a message into Gmail, I wonder if the ethics of Google prohibit them from reading the mail. Sometimes I email with execs at companies that compete with Google. I think “They’d probably like to know this.” I wonder if they look. Permalink to this paragraph