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Gmail Privacy: Are You Giving Away Your Business Plans to Google?

By January 13, 2010January 14th, 2010Internet Lawyer

When you go to an Internet marketing event, you don’t run around the room telling all your potential competitors your new business ideas and trade secrets. And if you find spyware on a computer filled with your business documents, you don’t leave it there to harvest your confidential information.

Why not?

Because you want to implement your plans before someone else does.

Yet the odds are good that you’re telling Google your business plans and other confidential information on a daily basis. And if you believe Google’s informal “Don’t be evil” motto, then perhaps your trust is well-placed.

But are you willing to take the risk?

Here’s an example…

I recently sent an e-mail to one of my Gmail accounts from my law firm as a test. The e-mail described a nonexistent “Project X” as being being important, potentially the “next Google,” and the need to get a patent right away to protect intellectual property rights.

Checking the message in the gmail inbox, I was hit with a bunch of sidebar ads by attorneys including patent lawyers.

Think about that for a moment.

If Google is willing to sniff through your e-mail to target advertising, what is it willing to do when it comes to your business ideas that you’re communicating back and forth daily by e-mail?

Note that I”m not picking on Google. The same could be said of Yahoo! and others. Google just happens to be a very good example because major Internet marketers prefer to use it because of ease and functionality. However, this convenience comes at a price…the privacy of your business plans.

If you develop a better widget, understand that your e-mail communications are not private. And when it comes to gmail, know that the content is being actively scanned for keywords…at least for advertising. Perhaps more. Who knows? Maybe your widget plans will become Google Widget 1.0. If so, good luck trying to collect royalties.

On a lighter note, check out this related humor video regarding Google and privacy.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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