Shooting Spitballs May Be More Useful
The average Californian has many concerns these days: how to feed their families, the legal viability of same-sex unions, outrageously high gas prices, and how to afford college for Junior or Juniorette.
Stopping Gmail generally is not among those concerns.
But State Senator Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) believes that Gmail, the controversial new e-mail service from Google that is beta testing right now, is a scourge upon the earth that must be terminated with alacrity. And she has introduced a bill that would ban Gmail in the Golden State.
“Telling people that their most intimate and private e-mail thoughts to doctors, friends, lovers, and family members are just another direct marketing commodity isn’t the way to promote e-commerce,” said Figueroa in a prepared statement. “At minimum, before someone’s most intimate and private thoughts are converted into a direct marketing opportunity for Google, Google should get everyone’s informed consent.”
In a recent posting on his Politech listserv (a service that is separate from his News.com duties), McCullagh points out that Figueroa’s bill would make it illegal for a California company to offer a “family friendly” email service that filtered dirty jokes into their own folder, for instance. The bill also would prohibit reviewing incoming messages to make clickable hyperlinks out of text phrases like “www.sntreport.com.”
Further, the bill might ban the practice of discarding messages with attachments beyond a certain size limit.
Google has suffered a public relations fiasco because of Gmail, and rightly so. But trying to legislate Gmail is not the answer. Quite the contrary, it’s patently ridiculous.
Declan McCullagh. Legislator Seeks to Block Gmail News.com. April 22, 2004.
California Senate. Privacy: Online Communications (SB 1822).
Update: “The California state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that takes aim at Google’s new Gmail service, placing strict limits on e-mail providers seeking to scan customer messages for advertising and other purposes.”
Evan Hansen. California Senate approves anti-Gmail bill. News.com. May 27, 2004.