Does Gmail (and other browsers/sites???) actually read one's email?

No doubt I am naïve, or at least behind the times, but I was astonished to learn that Gmail (and perhaps other browsers/sites???)can read one’s email.
Is this true?
If so, no doubt they claim that they read only material relevant to products, and not personal information.
But why would anyone trust this to be true?

Who says anyone trusts such vague statements? Unless your email is somehow securely encrypted, lots of people can read it, or at least you should assume as much.

How can a web site display information for you without “reading” it??

Who is this Mr./Ms./Mrs. Google? That’s a lot of emails to read.

Do you mean scan? I’m sure Google/NSA (nah, they said they stopped)/ISPs/Govt.(China et al) scan them for keywords.

As a test (don’t do it - sczarcazm) just include some statements about Jihad, assassination, bomb-making in the body of your future emails. Write back when/if you get a chance.

You don’t even have to do that.
Just note what products are being pushed at you - those are being chosen by Google scanning your email for content.

The norm is that the encryption is solely between you and the web site you are using, but it can be set up in various ways so even the web site you are accessing has no idea what some of the content is that it is delivering. Frames and such can be fed via other sites and the site you think you are visiting don’t know what’s in those frames.

The ultra-secure web email services have things set up so that their servers have no idea what the content is of the mail you are sending or receiving. The encryption chain is from end to end. (I.e., from the sender to the receiver.)

Gmail and friends are not like this.

Yes, they scan your emails to get a better idea for what kind of ads they target you.

(I know I’m going to get flack for this, but it is incredibly valid. Save it.)

“If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

My company uses Gmail which they presumably pay for (I work for a large publicly listed company, don’t get served ads in my inbox and the email address is Is that encrypted differently/more private?

Google used to scan your emails for targeting ads, but apparently does not any longer. Bing (huh?) “gmail scanning ads”, without quotation marks, or something of the sort.

I just upgraded my Gmail to “gmail 2.0” or something. When I get an email, it suggests several possible replies, each of which appears on a button. I can click the button that that reply is immediately sent.

For example, Joe writes to me: “I was thinking about seeing a movie tonight at 8. Are you interested?”

And Gmail will suggest three replies, something like:

  • “See you there!”
  • “Sorry, I’m busy.”
  • “I will get back to you.”

How Google can do that if it isn’t reading the text in some way would be some mind-bending science shit.

It also reads your mail to filter out spam, viruses, and other such nastiness.

This is correct. This is how you know that they are reading your email.

Google still reads your emails, but supposedly they stopped doing for ads and for more altrustic reasons (cite). Surely, they would never lie.

Gmail’s software certainly “reads” the email. It is necessary for delivery of the message, security from viruses/malware/spam, and for that matter to simply display the message on your screen.

Whether Gmail employees can/do read the email with their eyeballs is another matter. Unless some Google authority chimes in I can only offer a wild-ass guess from a computer guy.

I would guess that generally Google employees are very forbidden from reading user emails, but software coders (the people that write the software that runs Gmail services), security staff, and/or quality control staff probably could read your email under certain conditions. But still, their computers must process millions if not billions of messages every day, the chances that human eyeballs would fall on yours seem exceedingly slim.

We know that there were NSA staffers who would use the systems to spy on their girlfriends, ex-wives, etc. It’s not hard to believe that there are at least some Google employees doing the same (well, except maybe for the part about them having girlfriends).

Happily married, thanks.