"If all of your friends use Gmail, Google has your email anyway."


Wed, May 14th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you run your own mailserver to maintain "autonomy, control, and privacy," there really is no point in doing so if the people you're emailing all have a GMail account. As Benjamin Mako Hill explains, "any time I email somebody who uses Gmail — and anytime they email me — Google has that email."

The answer is surprisingly large. Despite the fact that I spend hundreds of dollars a year and hours of work to host my own email server, Google has about half of my personal email! Last year, Google delivered 57% of the emails in my inbox that I replied to. They have delivered more than a third of all the email I’ve replied to every year since 2006 and more than half since 2010. On the upside, there is some indication that the proportion is going down. So far this year, only 51% of the emails I’ve replied to arrived from Google.

The numbers are higher than I imagined and reflect somewhat depressing news. They show how it’s complicated to think about privacy and autonomy for communication between parties. I’m not sure what to do except encourage others to consider, in the wake of the Snowden revelations and everything else, whether you really want Google to have all your email. And half of mine.



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