You have got to be kidding me. A state legislator from California (where else?) has implied that Google’s Gmail service is illegal and is drafting legislation to block it.
According to state Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, Calif., Google’s new webmail offering is "… an absolute invasion of privacy." If you ask me, I think the senator is making a move that is an absolute invasion of my rights.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t plan on signing up for the service.
But this leads me to the obvious: How is my privacy invaded if I simply choose to not sign up for the service? I mean, really, can’t I make that decision for myself?
Where have we come as a society when we are robbed of personal responsibility? Does the senator think that we, the unwashed masses, are all blundering fools and too stupid to make wise decisions for ourselves? Do we really need the likes of Sen. Figueroa to direct us in the paths of techno-safety and privacy?
And besides, what if I am willing to have a "public" e-mail address where I get to read targeted ads? What if I really do want to allow someone else to examine all my Gmail in order to be able to quickly find salient advertisers?
I am not a libertarian or anything. I don’t think that we have to right to do whatever we want, so long as we are consenting adults. I am, in fact, a strong believer in absolute truth. There are simply some things that are absolutely wrong and unjust. However, this is not one of them.
There is no deception as to what is going on here. Google will give you a ton of mail storage (waayyy more than Hotmail or Yahoo) in exchange for the right to scan your mail to tailor advertising for you. In the same way that I think I should be free to eat fatty foods, smoke cigarettes or juggle sharp objects, I should be able to sign up for Gmail. It might be unwise, but it is NOT illegal.