April 16th, 2014

LuxSci takes email privacy seriously … Google owns your Gmail data forever

In recent news, Google is warning consumers that Gmail and google apps are actively scanning your email.

What does this mean?  Google on Tuesday edited its privacy policy to say:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Wow! Really?  Google is coming clean because it is being sued, of course.  But this means that if you use Google for email (or calendars, etc.)

  1. Google is actively scanning and making copies of all of your content.
  2. You give Google and any other company it decides to work with full right to do anything it wants with your data … including publishing it publicly at any time in the future.

Clearly, this goes way beyond any concept of “automated scanning” and any thought that “well, it’s Ok if they scan it just to make ads for me.”  The old adage of “you put a picture on the Internet and its there forever” clearly applies to Google … “use Google for anything and your data is theirs forever and they can do whatever they want with it.”  This is about as far the opposite of privacy as I can imagine.

Google professes some modicum of privacy for customers with HIPAA accounts; however, I am not sure I would trust that as far as I can throw it… as it seems to be so inconsistent with everything else that they do, that I can’t imagine that there are not privacy issues lurking.

What does LuxSci do differently?

We do scan your email… but only because you want us to

Based on your account settings we may scan your inbound and/or outbound email so as to:

  1. Block viruses, spam, and malware from reaching you
  2. Stop unwanted content sent from your users
  3. Provide custom email processing rules setup by our end users

This scanning is quite simple and common. The message is read into a program that compares it to the rules listed for filtering. LuxSci never saves any specific copies of these messages beyond what the filters are instructed to do (e.g. quarantine spam, save a message to a folder, etc.) This is the opposite of Google, who saves annotated copies of all messages and data and uses that data and/or discloses it to others.

Our privacy policy is very strict

LuxSci’s Privacy Policy expressly states that we will never disclose any of your email or other sensitive data to any third party without your explicit consent, except as required by law.

Furthermore, we consider your data as confidential, our staff will never access your sensitive data without your explicit consent (unless it appears that you are violating our Acceptable Use Policies and examination may be required to verify or mitigate the violation or abuse).

There is really no difference between the privacy policy we extend to all users and that which extend to our sensitive HIPAA-compliant users.  In practice we treat all of the accounts the same as consistency goes a very long way towards good security.


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