The thread killer
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: UmeŚ, Sweden
Thanked 84 Times in 75 Posts
Well, if the law suggestion for California that requires them to delete all mail the user has required deletion of, they will simply not provide a deletion facility but instead only an archive function. The archive facility remove mails from the listings unless you explicitly specify they should be searched.
Why do Google want our deleted/removed/archived mail?
Well, first of all, an important part of their business is information filtering. They decide what is important and what is less important data based on many, many variables. If they can get a very important factor - exactly what data is unwanted, they can much better predict that. I've said before that Google will not leave out client information to third parties, will not store information about clients in such a form that that information is ever publicly available, and will not store information in such a way that it can be connected with a certain individual. Thbere are laws in multiple countries that would make Google an illegal franchise if they ever did, which would mean that even though they can't necessarily do anything against Google, they can prevent any future business that Google wants to do within the country. What interests Google has of you are as a statistic, not as an individual. From your mails, wanted and unwanted alike, they will compile a profile and place you in categories as appropriate. They will keep track of your frequency of checking your mail, your frequency of searching your mail, your mail contents, what mail you just sift over and what mail you read, what mail you consider unwanted, what mail you reply to, etc. Not you as an individual, but you as one part of a really, really large statistical mapping. They want a large enough statistical sample to be able to predict on a population basis as well as a grouping basis how you, and others like you, will react.
Ultimately, Google will use this information, yes. Not the information collected, but the statistical information. They will use it in an effort to become more effective, to be able to serve targetted ads even better, to be able to gain more money from what is already by far the most cost-effective ad service around for both the provider and the customer. From a Google perspective, you're not the customer. The ad service buyer is the customer. You're the commodity. By making you a more attractive commodity, i.e. by making sure to only serve you an ad if you are in the target population for it, they are making the ads pay better for their customers, and they can reap a large part of the difference to their competitors, the other ad services.
Google is not about databases, about finding words in text from around the net, about huge datacenters or distributed, redundant computing. Google is about collecting statistical data. They already have a lot of information about you, their commodity, from looking at what data interests you on the net. However, that is a sample of your, mor or less, public behavior. What their email efforts will provide them, is a sample of a much more private data. Not on an individual, but again on a population. The Google project is, in fact, the world's largest social and behavioral research project. What they do is without competition the largest collection of behavioral and social data, in an effort to effectively be able to predict human behavior at large. This includes many different parts, but not one product that has been developed by Google has any other purpose than increasing their data sample.
Google don't need you, the individual. They have no interest in induviduals at all. Their interest is in groups. In this, they are neutral to many factors that you might consider important. They don't care about HTML, or the semantic web, or whether you use Microsoft or Apple or Sun or Debian. They don't care if you feed or kill kittens, go around and kick grandmas or help them across the street, or anything like that. They only care about what social group you belong in and what behaviors they can expect from that group. If that group tends to use linux, or visits german porn sites, or kills kittens, they will try to gather that information, if it is possible. If not, they will simply go by what information they can find out about the group. And that's where email comes into the picture. Instead of just studying the public data on you, which is limited, they can get a much more complete data sample. That data sample gives a more accurate grouping, as well as better predictions based on the group you belong to.
Google don't want you. In fact, for all they care you could be ageless, faceless, nameless. What they care about is what groupings they can sort you under and what behavior they can expect. Because knowing that is what gives them money.