Being able to send and receive messages immediately; from anywhere in the world is a remarkable thing indeed. Sharing pictures, videos and daily goings on to loved ones with the click of a button. It used to be that correspondence was a much more involved process. Writing a letter, maybe including a Polaroid, addressing the envelope, sealing and sending it off. The mail service would then take that letter, and deliver it to its intended destination. Whatever you Included in that message was kept private. Your mail carrier did not open it. The post office wont read and catalog the information you send through its service. These same privacies should inherently exist with email. However the fact is they do not.
The thought of your postal service reading letters, and keeping a permanent database on each person that uses the service is a ludicrous thought. Imagine anyone who has ever sent a letter, with their own file. All their interests documented. Name, age, gender, ethnicity, zip code and more. An absurd idea. Or is it? Free email services do exactly this. Its all (mostly) on the up and up technically. Clever wording in those terms of service agreements we all agree to yet never read. Of course there is not a team of individuals intercepting and reading millions of emails. Messages are scanned for keywords. And your internet footprint begins to develop.
Why should a free email service want to have all this information on you? Because its how they make their money. Your private data need for target marketing. If you have ever thought to yourself ” I wonder how these free services can exist with little to no option for monetization.” here is your answer. Imagine walking into a retail store; and the folks on the sales floor already knew you. That salesman knows what your there for. He knows which stores you have been to already. He knows your likes and dislikes, where you live, where you work, and much more.
Maybe you host your own email, or you use a work email, etc. Its often said that if you’re not okay with the practices of a service, simply do not use that service. If these free email sites are building a database on you and use that information; simply find other means.
Unfortunately there is more to worry about. Just because you are not a user of the service does not mean they cannot get to you. If you interact with someone who uses these services, those messages are scanned for targeted marketing in the same way!
While the ability to use email free of charge is nice; it’s clearly not without its drawbacks. Secure email and internet privacy are hard to come by at this point. Legislation has a long way to go to catch up with all the new concepts the internet has introduced. For now we can look to secured / encrypted emails where no one is reading my email or using for targeted marketing