Why is Email Privacy More Important Than Ever?

Why is Email Privacy More Important Than Ever

Have you ever considered how much is your free email provider costing you?

Wait. What do you mean? It doesn’t cost me anything. It’s free, you said so yourself.

“Well, sorry to break it to you but these email services have to make a living as well and how do they do it?”

By collecting and then selling off your personal data to third parties.

“But I’m being very careful not to give off any personal or sensitive data in my emails”

That might be the case and good for you, but consider that your email client is also connected to your other personal accounts like your bank account, social media accounts, etc. If your email account is compromised so are your other accounts and the data they hold.

No End-to-End Encryption Equals Free Access to Your Personal Information

End-to-end encryption is the talk of the hour now and for a very good reason.

People are getting more and more concerned about protecting their personal data and preventing third parties from reading and sharing them.

Yet even though many online services are starting to offer end-to-end encryption, including recently Facebook for its Messenger app, the ones that should be the first to do this don’t.

We are, of course, talking about email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.

That is not to say that they don’t offer any protection at all. Your electronic communications are safe-ish as they travel from you to the recipient thanks to TLS, but are still quite vulnerable at the ends, meaning on the mail servers, where they can be picked up, modified and used by anyone.

“But email encryption is such a hassle! I’m sure nothing’s going to happen.”

Are you quite sure about that?

Because year-by-year malware has been on the rise and 92% of malware is delivered by email.

If someone gains unauthorized access to your email, there’s not much stopping them from gaining access to your other accounts and sensitive information like credit card information, bank account, SSN and so on.

That is why you need to use an encrypted email that will truly keep your sensitive information secure and also ensure that they are not sold to the highest bidder, or sent to government agencies (at least without a court order).

Relax, Google doesn’t Sell Your Personal Data to Third Parties. Or so They would Have You Believe

Now, we need to be clear about one thing.

Google doesn’t actually sell your personal data to advertisers directly.

That would be a clear violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which says that:

“Any exchange of personal data for ‘valuable consideration’ is, with some exceptions, a ‘sale’.”

And also that a company that sells user data must have a prominent do not sell my data button on its website in order to allow users to opt-out of this.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but the definitions of “sale” and whatever “valuable consideration” is by CCPA are vague at best (on purpose?) and you can bet that Google (and other email providers) has found a way to circumvent.

So, how is Google making a profit from your private information, without actually selling it?

They have two main ways to monetize the data that they collect from you:

  1. By sharing it with advertisers and then having them bid on individual ads
  2. By creating individual profiles based on interests, demographics and other factors, based on the personal data they collect about users and then giving this data to advertisers to build target markets.

This is where Real-Time Bidding (RTB) comes in. This is a process in which a website, app, or in this case, an email service, auctions off ad space and, by doing so, shares sensitive data about users, including their device ID, browsing history, IP logs, geolocation and so on.

And guess who pretty much controls the RTB ecosystem?

That’s right. It’s Google.

In 2007, Google bought the then-largest third-party ad network on the Internet, DoubleClick for $3.1B (don’t worry, they made their money back severalfold). DoubleClick is now part of the Google Marketing Platform and controls nearly 50% of ad exchange on the web.

ad network on the Internet

So how does Google make money from this?

Let’s say you are using a Google app on your phone or browser. This app has something called a Software Development Kit (SDK) built into it, which is a tool created by Google’s Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick) for web browsers, or AdMob for mobile devices (which Google also purchased in 2009.

These then partner with ad exchanges in “open biddings” to get your data and serve you their ads.

So what’s happening here is that Google can claim that they are not directly selling user data to third parties and therefore not violating any privacy laws. The whole responsibility for compliance falls on websites that participate in these ad exchanges and not on Google.

Conclusion

Whether Gmail directly or indirectly makes money off your personal data is a moot point. The point is that they are definitely making money from you.

So the question is should you allow just about anyone to have access to your electronic communications and personal data?

Of course not.

That is why we’ve created our secure email service, CTemplar to help users truly protect their email data from third parties, whether they are big tech corporations, advertisers, government agencies, or hackers.

“But aren’t you an email service as well? Why should I trust you with my personal email?”

CTemplar is a secure email provider that offers end-to-end encryption to prevent unauthorized access to your data, but what’s more, it also uses zero access encryption, which means that you are the only one who can gain access to your confidential information like your password.

Now even CTemplar can do this.

Sign up to get your secure email today!