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If I sign up for Gmail I probably agree to give Google the right to use all my content for whatever purposes they want. We know they have incredible research going on into data mining and machine learning to identify and predict sensitive and personal information about our desires and behaviors that they use for their extremely profitable advertising business.

I do not want any of my information used by Google so I don't use Gmail. But tons of people do use Gmail and I email with them. Therefore, Google has an incredible amount of information on me from the bodies of all these emails I've sent to people with gmail accounts.

Is there any information out there about what Google does with this information and what they've said they might do with it? I don't trust myself to be able to interpret the privacy policy with a lawyer's eye (I wouldn't be surprised if the language is crafted to allow them to do whatever they want with the data).

If anyone has looking into any of this I think this would be very valuable information to share.

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  • Could they? Technically yes. Legally maybe. Are they? I don't think anyone outside Google's mail group can answer that for sure.
    – keshlam
    Sep 28, 2022 at 19:36
  • Given the site we're on we should follow the principle of assuming that if they can, they are. Also - why wouldn't they? That sort of data would be a gold mine for ad targeting which is their whole business. Oct 26, 2022 at 5:16

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A group of non-Gmail users attempted to bring a class action lawsuit against Google over this issue in 2014.

At the time, Google acknowledged that their systems do in fact collect information on non-Gmail users when non-Gmail users send email messages to Gmail users, but stated that non-Gmail users should have no expectations of privacy when doing so (see https://gizmodo.com/google-gmail-users-have-no-reason-to-expect-privacy-1126390598).

The judge in the case ruled against allowing the class action to proceed.

References:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/03/lawsuit-against-google-for-wiretapping-denied-class-action-status/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-gmail-lawsuit/google-wont-face-email-privacy-class-action-idUSBREA2I13G20140319

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