The background

Gmail is Google’s web-based email service which was first launched in 2004.

At the time of launch, a free Gmail account came with 1GB storage – way ahead of their competitors. At the time of writing users receive 15GB.

In 2017 Google announced Gmail had over 1.2 billion active users.

The problems with Gmail

  • Your emails can be ‘scanned’ by Google to provide contextual advertising within Gmail but also to help Google build profiles about you based on who you contact and the content of your messages.
  • In 2016 Google announced it would no longer scan emails as they had enough data from the rest of their surveillance network and it was no longer necessary.
  • People who don’t have Gmail accounts but communicate with Gmail users have their privacy violated by Google scanning without their consent.
  • Google has a single privacy policy which it can change unilaterally at any time – it’s done this a few times to merge data between Gmail and search in 2012 and Gmail and DoubleClick in 2016
  • In 2019 it was revealed that Google uses your emails from online retailers to build lists of products you’ve purchased
  • Although you can delete your emails from your account they are retained on Google servers for an unspecified period – thought by many to be forever.

Ever since Google first introduced its free Gmail email service some 13 years ago, it has been analyzing the text of emails to personalise advertising displayed both within Gmail and elsewhere. Privacy advocates and concerned users alike have long criticized this as a far-reaching intrusion, but most other free email services have been doing the same — or at least reserved the rights to do so — for years.
Read more

Google Will Keep Reading Your Emails, Just Not for Ads – Variety

What can I do?

There are quite a few privacy-focused email alternatives – check the latest advice from Switching.Social