back to article Californian university drops Gmail over privacy concerns

US academics at the University of California-Davis have reportedly canned a Gmail pilot project over privacy fears regarding Google’s ill-conceived launch of Buzz. According to Information Week the university’s IT officials backed out of plans to shift its email system for its 30,000 faculty and staff members over to Gmail …


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  1. andrew mulcock
    Thumb Down


    And to think

    Ntl world / Virgin media are 'updating' form their own servers to using Gmail !!

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Sky too!

      SKY simply point you at GMAIL server web front ends for your email, completely farmed out.

      Sooner or later the world's Govs won't need anti-terror units, they will simply call up Google and ask to see such-and-such's email account, job done!

    2. Tech Hippy


      Considering how ropey the old NTL mail servers have been in the 11 years I've been their customer, I'm extremely grateful that they've moved my accounts to the Google backend.

  2. clod computing is big

    secure email is an oxymoron, dumbasses

    gmail not private? Shock! Horror! OMFG! LOL etc..

    Outlook correspondence not private? Impossible!

    Come on folks. Unencrypted text in an email is by definition not even remotely secure.

    If it's plain text on a disk, your friendly sysadmin can read it, and any bored miscreant with a well situated router can read whatever flies by if it's in plain text. That is if they could be bothered.

    We (a 500 or so academic subspecies at Harvard) moved to gmail 2 years ago and it's been fantastic - much more reliable and far less expense for us. Privacy? We've heard of that but for email (gmail or otherwise), you must be kidding..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Secure Mail

      I can't contest your comments about the security, or otherwise, of email in general. If you don't use TLS whilst sending your mails, then it can be sniffed en route and once it lands at the target site, then of course, a roving sysadmin could read it if they wished.

      The really non-secure issue though is that mail on GMail servers gets indexed - even if it isn't made public - giving Google more information about you than they have already from your web browsing.

      The addition of Buzz made it even less secure as now they know where you are too.

      I think this is the really big issue with GMail and why I only send test mails through my GMail account.



    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      @secure email is an oxymoron, dumbasses →

      Very true, we really should have a secure alternative by now...

      But, equally true is that inter-departmental emails would normally stay inside the network, and that would require a certain degree of "inside cooperation" to intercept and scan all of the data. Where as putting ALL email out to a 3rd party opens up EVERYTHING to interception and US-subpoenas. An important point if you are not a US university or business.

    3. Frantisek Janak
      Big Brother


      or the phone (calls and messages) for that matter...hell, even whispering in the middle of Sahara is hardly private nowadays... Just face it, there is no privacy any longer. IF the thing you are saying/writing is interesting enough it will be heard/read. If not...well, it will be stored anyway, just in case.

      You may affect who will read/hear it first, but that's about it... I, for one, don't mind Google as the first reader, because I think they are more fit to reject illegitimate requests than say...some weak local service provider...

    4. Doshu

      oh we kid you not

      Google is to privacy what division by zero is to math.

      Um... wait... *mumbles*.. carry the one........ yep!

      Figures don't lie, man. They just don't.

      Also, i like puppies.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Google has a funny reaction to privacy, publicly acting as though anyone who wants it is a bit strange.

    Isn't the US government legally allowed to read anyone's e-mail after it's a few months old, anyway? How they get away from such a thing is beyond me.


    Wise Move

    Hosting your own email server (or using a trustworthy email hosting company) is the only way to maintain some semblance of control.

    Trusting your commercial communications requirements to a company that thrives on commercial intelligence gathering - particularly Google - is madness.

    Well done University of California-Davis.

  5. JBH

    Buzz isn't compulsory.

    I'd have thought 'academics' would be smart enough to work that out.

  6. Tzael

    Thumbs up to California-Davis

    "insisted its contracts with customers guaranteed user privacy"

    Sounds like Google are actively redefining the meaning of the phrase "user privacy". I'm sure that's just an internal Google reference they use for describing physical privacy, whereas they don't have a phrase or word they apply to data privacy.

    Anyhow, good effort by the university. With more organisations taking alternative options to Google and making public their reasons for doing so we can hope that the public will gradually become more aware of Google's greater strategy. Gee it sounds like I'm a conspiracy theorist... At least I'm reassured by the knowledge that Google really is out to get all my data!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Methinks ...

    Methinks the Uni doth protest too much.

    Imagine some irregularities in Uni staff having access to accounts and governors emails and to lose that to the Google? Yes, they (Uni staff that is) will protest over muchly to be sure?

    Maybe, just like an earlier incident about not-spying on youth at home with school laptop there is more to this than meets the eye?

  8. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    Kelly seems to have been eating too much

    (presumably non-Google) chocolate - superfluous references to the «Chocolate Factory» both in the heading and in the article text ! Do he and the Reg editors fear that the information provided in the article wouldn't stand on its own without this bit of titillation ? What happened to respect for the readership ?...

    Frantisek makes a good point above ; Google probably does stand a better chance of resisting illegitimate requests for information than many others service providers do. However, given that Google now seems unfortunately to have become an arm of the US State Department, their ability - or desire - to resist «requests» for information from that counry's federal government may be called into question. In any event, Echelon is listening to us all, so perhaps the question has become academic ?...


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What gets me is ...

    What gets me is the unspoken assumption that locally managed mail servers are somehow more secure and better managed.

    The BOFH scenario plays out at many places plus organisations with many different local sites might just have a local mail server at each site (makes sense really) and how many of those have compromised security?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IMAP, GPG and Thunderbird

    ..will do the trick. Provided that the algorithms in GPG (or SSL/TLS) are strong enough. There are quite some rumors (no proof, though) they are not any more.

    I suggest to encrypt everything sensitive on a PC that is always under your control with a Thunderbird GPG plugin and use the normal Gmail functionality otherwise.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Turning over your mail to Google

    Is like posting you email on a billboard. The company's whole gmail business model is data mining all net traffic running through its email system.

  12. James Woods


    your seeing alot of .edu move into gmail because google is in the whitehouse.

    we have a gmail account just for testing and I cringe whenever I see the buzz stuff.

    we have used the account to contact clients and staff and it's unfortunate to know that at one time google buzz released all this information to the public.

    there have been a large number of failed social networking sites, some well known companies have tried them and fell flat on their faces. For some reason google just doesn't want to give up on this failure.

    what's more unfortunate is that say some terrorist was using gmail to conduct their affairs and that terrorist has conversations with others and google published it via buzz.

    100 to 1 the court system we have never ever would of been able to use that information to do anything because of googles stated privacy protections.

    google will only start to fall once a company bigger then it is permitted and since google is in the whitehouse that's not gonna happen until the house is cleaned.

    watching yahoo claim googles death was funny, yahoo still around? :)

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