[AxisOfEasy] Google Enables Developers To Inspect Your Email

Weekly Axis Of Easy #56

Sorry we’re late this week, it was Canada Day, eh? To our American clientele, please have a great 4th of July. 

This week’s quote: “Where there is official censorship it is a sign that speech is serious. Where there is none, it is pretty certain that the official spokesmen have all the loudspeakers.” —by ????

Last Week’s Quote was “The problem is not so much to see what nobody else sees, but rather to think what nobody else has thought about that which everybody sees.”, nobody got it, it was Arthur Schopenhauer.

THE RULES: No Googling the answer, must be posted here, below this post.

The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal on us.

In this issue:

  • Multiple federal agencies open investigation into Facebook
  • Google enables developers to inspect your email
  • Data breach at unheard of firm exposes hundreds of millions of Americans’ data
  • Samsung phones spontaneously sending photos to user contacts
  • EFF helps teacher respond to patent troll
  • Slack outage paralyzes entire tech industry (except us)
  • Managing Mission Critical Domains & DNS has published
  • Facebook algo flags Declaration of Independence as hate speech

Multiple federal agencies join investigation into Facebook

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is not going away for Facebook, at least not yet. To review: Zuck went to Washington to do what he always does: an “aw shucks” apology with a promise never to do anything bad again, only as reported previously, he may have actually been lying when he answered some of those questions about who has access to what. Now, representatives from the SEC, the FTC and most notably, the FBI are joining the DoJ investigation into what happened between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

Speaking of Facebook, NYT has a rundown of the “7 most creepy Facebook patents” including one to figure out if you’re in a romanic relationship with somebody based on your interactions with them (such as how often you visit their profile page).

(I’m about halfway through Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”, which we mentioned last week, I’ll post a review when I’m done).


Google enables developers to inspect your email

Last year Google pledged to stop datamining users’ email in order to target ads based on their email contents (if you use gmail you should ponder that sentence for awhile before continuing). News broke yesterday that despite that promise, third-party app developers still have access to gmail users inboxes. Whenever you approve a third-party app to access your google account you are often times granting access to your email, some of those app developers then datamine or even manually inspect your email. Which, we pose the question again: if the confidentiality of your business correspondence or your personal email privacy matters at all to you, then why on earth are you putting it with a company whose entire business model is monetizing data?

Because it’s free? Many of you probably have access to free easyMail with your domain packages already and don’t even realize it (and that’s on us. Which we’re trying to put right by making sure you now know about it).


Data breach at unheard of firm exposes hundreds of millions of Americans’ data

Wouldn’t it suck if a company you’ve never heard of and you’ve never consented to shared your personal data, which turned out to have it anyway and then left it out in the open on the internet for anybody to download? Well, that’s what Florida-based “Exactis” did, whoever the hell that is. About 230 million consumers and 110 million businesses have now had their personal contact details, profile data points such as whether they smoke, what religion they are, clothes sizes, do they have pets, etc. The only saving grace is the data dump didn’t have social insurance numbers or credit card details but still, ample identity theft fodder for sure.

Oh, and while we’re at it, a company you have heard of, Adidas, also got breached, but at least they didn’t leave your data sitting out there in the open on the web. Good write-up about it and data breach disclosure in general by Kim Crawley.


Samsung phones spontaneously sending photos to user contacts

It looks like a bug in the Samsung messaging app has it spontaneously grabbing photos from your camera roll and then sending it to random contacts in your list. Sounds like something out of a crazy sitcom but it’s true. What’s worse, there seems to be no record of the transmissions in the app itself. Reports from users started on reddit  and was later picked up by Gizmodo and TheVerge.



EFF helps teacher respond to patent troll

The more I know about software patents the more I realize how fundamentally broken the system is. At least the EFF makes it their business to take on patent trolls, like they did in the case of a language teacher who was making online courses to learn languages. The EFF sent a response laying the case that the patent is invalid under a 2014 Supreme Court decision which held that “an abstract idea does not become eligible for patent protection merely by being implemented on conventional or generic technology”, in this case, recording language lessons.

(We had a patent troll come at us once claiming they held a patent on 2-factor authentication. We got lucky, after we told them where they could stick their patent we haven’t heard back since.)


Slack outage paralyzes entire tech industry (except us)

The entire tech industry ground to a halt for four hours last week when Slack (which TIL stands for “searchable log of all conversation and knowledge”) crashed and spent 4 hours flapping in various stages of usability. We didn’t notice, because we stopped using Slack a long time ago. No doubt, Slack is slick, but it’s also centralized, and as we now all see, it’s a SPOF (Single Point of Failure).

As DNS guys, SPOFs are anathema to us, which is why we switched to Mattermost, which is like Slack, but we host the application and all the data. Last week’s crash was just a crash, but what happens if/when it’s a data breach and all those internal corporate communications are spewed all over the web? There’s only one way not to find out, and that’s to not use a centralized messaging system. Given what the acronym actually stands for, it implies that that searchable log of all your business isn’t just limited in scope to you. Given what we see play out time and again via Google, via Facebook via everybody who has your data, think about it.


Managing Mission Critical Domains & DNS has published

After a little over four years, countless rewrites, 3 or 4 technical reviews, three publishers and who knows how many editors, my book Managing Mission Critical Domains & DNS has finally been published via Packt Publishing out of London UK. I’m grateful to the team at Packt, as well as all those who reviewed it and helped get ‘er done. You can obtain the book direct from Packt or via Amazon. If you do end up reading it, please give it a review if so inclined.


Facebook algo flags Declaration of Independence as hate speech

Was just going to press with this edition and came across this Fourth of July hilarity: A small community newspaper in Texas was posting serialized chunks of the Declaration of Independence to its Facebook page in order to “foster historical literacy” in the run up to July 4th. The 10th daily batch, consisting of paragraphs 27 thru 31 wasn’t posted and instead they received a notice from Facebook that the text “goes against our standards on hate speech.” The community newspaper article was later updated to let readers know that Facebook had reversed the flagging early July 3rd and restored the article.

9 thoughts on “[AxisOfEasy] Google Enables Developers To Inspect Your Email

  1. I had a question for a long time and google research on the topic is hard to find (I am having a hard time formulating the proper question on Google). Maybe someone here have this information. The question is: despite having my own private email server, when I send an email to a gmail user, Google can read everything I write. Are they legally forced to ignore the email content from non-gmail users corresponding with gmail users?

    1. They can read anything in their user’s inbox. So if you sent it to a gmail user it’s fair game.

  2. re: Google inspects your emails…

    I’d love to get off Gmail and stop feeding Big Brother. Sure, easyMail would be my first choice. However, what has held me back for years is not whether it’s free, it’s that (1) they got the UI and workflow right, and (2) their many-to-many label model is not available in IMAP’s one-to-many folder structure.

    Does your easyMail IMAP have a way out of the one-to-many folder model?

  3. If you’re a gmail user and want to check which apps have access to your puter persona it turns out that google itself has lots of details under your account’s “sign in and security” access, including a list of those apps with limited to full access levels and providing the option to zap ‘n kill.

  4. Last Week’s Quote was “The problem is not so much to see what nobody else sees, but rather to think what nobody else has thought about that which everybody sees.”, nobody got it, it was Arthur Schopenhauer.

    I challenge this answer: this quote is a slight rewording of another author’s paraphrasing of the original quotation, which differs considerably enough to not be considered a match. Unfortunately, Google results are not the end authority here: we need citations to original source material – this ‘quote’ is certainly misattributed to Schopenhauer repeatedly on-line, but as all very well know by now, the web is replete with copy/paste of questionable material with nice eye appeal.

    Here is the original quote from Schopenhauer: “Das Talent gleicht dem Schützen, der ein Ziel trifft, welches die übrigen nicht erreichen können; das Genie dem, der eins trifft, bis zu welchem sie nicht einmal zu sehen vermögen.” [“Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung” II, 3 – “The World as Will and Imagination” Vol. II, Ch. III, para. 31 (On Genius), 1844], which translates approximately as: “The talent is like the marksman who hits a target which the rest cannot reach; the genius hits one which they cannot even see.”
    This quotation has been rephrased multiple times, and on-line searches will typically produce one of those retellings. The quote you provide is a slight alteration of a paraphrased translation of the original Schopenhauer quote by Ludwig von Bertalanffy [“Problems of Life” 1952]: “The task is, not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.”
    I prefer the more concise rewording of this by Albert Szent-Györgyi [“Bioenergetics” Part II: Biological structures and functions, p. 57, Academic Press 1957]: “Research is to see what everybody has seen and think what nobody has thought.”
    This was intended to be my high school yearbook quote (1981), but the editor made an egregious error which ruined the meaning, and puzzles people to this day when they look through my old yearbook (‘everybody’ repeated in place of ‘nobody’). That is why I am so familiar with this source material, and why I am responding now.

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