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STATEMENT REGARDING GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
This invention was supported in part by the National Science Foundation grant number IRI-9411306-4. The Government has certain rights in the invention.
If Google builds a database of keywords associated with email addresses, the potential for abuse is staggering. Google could grow a database that spits out the email addresses of those who used those keywords. How about words such as "box cutters" in the same email as "airline schedules"? Can you think of anyone who might be interested in obtaining a list of email addresses for that particular combination? Or how about "mp3" with "download"? Since the RIAA has sent subpoenas to Internet service providers and universities in an effort to identify copyright abusers, why should we expect Gmail to be off-limits?
Intelligence agencies would love to play with this information. Diagrams that show social networks of people who are inclined toward certain thoughts could be generated. This is one form of "data mining," which is very lucrative now for high-tech firms, such as Google, that contract with federal agencies. Email addresses tied to keywords would be perfect for this. The fact that Google offers so much storage turns Gmail into something that is uniquely dangerous and creepy.
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