EMail Privacy

In my prior post we began a discussion on one of my pet peeves privacy and our email.  I believed that this topic would get a little more “press” with the NSA, Edward Snowden, etc.  The reality is that the government has no need of a subpoena to get access to a fair amount of information about your online activities, searches, websites you visit, emails you send, because you have no expectation of privacy in the first place.  The same Terms of Services and Privacy Policy you agree to when using Google or Yahoo or the majority of internet based companies, as well as all of their sundry services, state you accept that you have no expectation of privacy.   Of course, how many people actually take the time to read and understand the rights they are giving up?  Read about Google’s court defense here.

Is it any wonder that the federal agencies are baffled by all the fuss?  After all, you have given away your privacy rights, allowing companies to sell your private information for profit and now you complain about “Big Brother”?  Where’s the logic?

Since we are speaking about email, what are your choices:

  1. Use free email services sacrificing privacy
  2. Use email accounts from your service provider
  3. Use a free service that promises not to invade your privacy and sell your information

I’ve already shared my opinion about option 1, giving up all privacy; that’s a non-starter.  What about option 2?  Many of the internet service providers allow you to define multiple email accounts (sometimes called sub-accounts) so that you can have more than one email account.  My family has one for each family member and a general junk email address that we give out to sign up for special offers.  What if you need additional accounts or you don’t have an internet service provider?  Are there any options for you?  Yes, there are.

You have two choices.  You can use one of the few free services that guarantees, in writing, to respect your privacy:  outlook.com.  Outlook.com is a Microsoft offering, that comes with a guarantee of privacy.  I know how Microsoft makes its money; they sell operating systems (Windows), office and productivity applications (Microsoft Office, Project, Visio),  SQL Server, software development tools and other applications.  Microsoft doesn’t make money by selling my information, they make money by selling software.  Oddly comforting, but comforting none-the-less.

Your second choice is to pay for a premium email service.  Frequently these services cost between $19 – $25 a year, but they usually, come with a guarantee of privacy.  It may surprise you to find that many of these premium services are offered by the same companies that offer the free, no privacy email services.  However, be sure to carefully read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to be certain you are guaranteed your privacy.   Simply paying money for the service isn’t a full guarantee.

As in many things, “closing the barn doors after the horses have left”, along with “putting the genie back in the bottle” are all expressions that say it will be hard to regain our privacy.  In order to reclaim our rights, we may have to make tough choices and we may need to pay for some services that we used to use for free.

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