Internet

Is It Safe?

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Gmail announced on its blog yesterday that it has upgraded its privacy settings to allow users to sign out of their accounts remotely, as well as track who has signed in under their name:

The top table, under "Concurrent session information," indicates all open sessions, along with IP address and "access type"—which refers to how email was retrieved, for example, through iGoogle, POP3 or a mobile phone. The bottom table, under "Recent activity," contains my most recent history along with times of access. I can also view my current IP address at the very bottom of this window, where it says "This computer is using IP address…"

With this information, I can quickly verify that all the Gmail activity was indeed mine. I remember using Gmail at the times and locations listed. Being extra cautious, I can also click on the "Sign out all other sessions" button to sign out of the account I left open at home.

Scott Loganbill at the tech blog Web Monkey wrote about the privacy upgrades like a gleeful, paranoid voyeur, and calls the new application features an opportunity "to turn the table and spy on the spies"—proof that even innocuous geeks suspect that someone, somewhere, is reading their email.

And now, Marathon Man:

NEXT: The Knives of Brixton

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  1. Obviously it’s not safe to use an email service that shares information with government agencies across the globe, and is part of the globalist machinery. Add Lisbon treaty and the Swedish FRA-law to the mess and you’re in for a treat.

  2. Gmail’s great as long as you’re not emailing anything you don’t want Google employees to read.

  3. At one time in the mid 90s I was gung ho about public-private key encrypting all me email. Not just signing, but encrypting the messages. The critical mass wasnt there though.

  4. Thanks for helping me show that there are things I haven’t heretofore discussed that Reason isn’t able to think through:

    1. Many people have DynamicIPs, none of which they would recognize. And, even for those they recognize, they might forget which they used when, and one of those could have actually been used by someone else.

    2. There’s no guarantee that the Google logs weren’t hacked in order to remove traces of intrusions. That’s certainly remote, but it probably could be done by a rogue employee.

  5. Gmail’s great as long as you’re not emailing anything you don’t want Google employees to read.

    It’s good, then, that I only use my gmail account to remind myself of girls to Google image search nude pics of when I get home.

  6. WTF is “globalism” anyway?

  7. Orange Line Special | July 8, 2008, 5:36pm | #
    Thanks for helping me show that there are things I haven’t heretofore discussed that Reason isn’t able to think through:

    LoneWhackJob / OLS,
    First, reason didn’t make the argument that this was a good or bad thing, nor did they, you know comment that the majority of people would even use it. You seem to have a hard time discerning what reason bloggers have written versus quoted material. Let me give you a hint, the big grey bar at the left of the text denotes quoted material. Not that hard to figure out.

    Second, if someone of your IQ can figure out that there are such things as Dynamic IPs and that they may not be readily identifiable by the average user then why do you think that the average Gmail user won’t figure that out? Remember, Gmail was originally only open by invite to maintain a high tech/geek ratio and it still maintains that. People who don’t have a clue are still using the same AOL account they have had since CompuServe went belly up and won’t be affected by this one iota.

    I think this is a good move, if for no other reason than the user can insure that he and only he is currently logged into the mail account.

  8. First – GMail (like hotmail, yahoo, etc) is a third party service. You should expect little privacy unless you encrypt your e-mail. This is a useful feature not offered elsewhere. This is a good thing. Rejoice.

    Second off – “dynamic ips” – yea no. Most “dynamic ips” are pretty static meaning they keep for a long time unless an event happens that forces the change. Its trivial to track someone down via their ip – even if they are hanging out at a starbucks trying to impress the coeds by discussing ron paul, drinking a $10 latte reading your e-mail on a $5k macbook pro.

    Third – g-mail employees “reading e-mail” – a valid complaint but I’m usually the one that gets paid to read your e-mail* (since asses like you sleep around with your subordinates and then they sue the corporation). But its strictly controlled – lawyers and hr are always involved. And if someone is caught snooping where they shouldn’t be – they are fired. On the spot. Not all companies operate that way so always remember point one.

    *(i don’t work for google but a rather large company)

    Now back to your regularly scheduled paranoia …

  9. WTF is “globalism” anyway?

    I’m not quite sure what globalism is, but I do know what anti-globalism is. Anti-globalism is the fear of free trade, fear of immigration, fear of foreigners, and fear that there’s this huge own-world-government conspiracy. To create an anti-globalist crusader, take one part Truther, two parts Pat Buchanan, and marinate liberally with basic economic ignorance.

  10. Brandybuck,
    I always thought “anti-globalism” meant you were against the idea of a spherical earth.

  11. I’m not quite sure what globalism is, but I do know what anti-globalism is. Anti-globalism is the fear of free trade, fear of immigration, fear of foreigners, and fear that there’s this huge own-world-government conspiracy. To create an anti-globalist crusader, take one part Truther, two parts Pat Buchanan, and marinate liberally with basic economic ignorance.

    Place in blender for 2 minutes at “Puree” pour into nut shaped bowl and Voila! An anti globalist LoneWacko emerges.

  12. Gmail’s great as long as you’re not emailing anything you don’t want Google employees to read.

    Same with practically every email carrier in the world. Comcast: same deal. AOL: Same deal. Your net admin at work on the Exchange server: same deal.

    Encrypt what you don’t want read. Plain and simple.

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