Ian Dury gave you reasons to be cheerful, these days Ian thorpe only seems able to give you reason to be wary but people who heed my warnings will have more seasons to be cheerful than those who do not heed my warnings.
Some time ago I opened a Gmail account because Virgin Mail which I used then was crap, they were only interested in selling cable subscription (a goal they would have stood a better chance of achieving if they had bovvered to lay some cables outside the M25) and Yahoo seemed to experience a failure to commmunicate with my friends on BTmail and a few others.
I did not use Gmail a lot because although the mail got through, I started to be bombarded with targeted ads related to keywords used in my mail exchanges (they weren’t keywords as far as I was concerned, just conversation; example – I’d mention Ford Prefect in H2G2 and it was assumed I was in the market for a Ford Focus. That did not worry me much but the idea that Google were sharing my email content with the bastards throwing these ads at me did.
If you thought Google’s contempt for user privacy was unacceptable then, things have gone a lot worse since. Take a look at this:
Three Reasons Why You Should Keep Gmail far Away from Your Credit Card Information
Google wants your money. Or, more precisely, Google wants your bank account and credit card info. At Quartz, Chris Mims reports that Google appears to be accelerating its roll-out of a service that will allow gmail users to send money via email to whomever they want as easily as sending an attachment. Sounds great but wait, theres more!
“Heres whats brilliant about offering the send money feature: Google almost certainly doesnt care whether you use it to send money. What it cares about is getting you to sign up to Google Wallet and capture your bank account and credit-card information. And its using Gmail, which has a reach comparable to that of Facebook425 million as of June 2012, the last time Google released numbersto do it.
Once Google has your payment info, it can then implement PayPal-like functionality throughout the Google universe YouTube, search, Maps, you name it. Anywhere you travel online while logged into your Google Account, you will have the ability to click-and-pay.
I can easily see this becoming popular. But here are three reasons to be wary.
1) Your Gmail account is already a hugely tempting target for hackers. Adding your financial info to that account will make it irresistible.
2) Googles ability to effectively target ads already gives it tremendous power to manipulate consumer behavior. Adding the instant gratification of easy-checkout to those ads will make the company even more powerful.
3) Google already knows far too much about what we want, what we do, where we go, and who we communicate with. Do we really want to complete the chain and give the company our most intimate financial information?
The question posed by Google and, really, all online Web services. At what point does convenience become vulnerability?
How many times have I told you Google are evil? Their motto is “Don’t be evil, that’s our job.”