Online Privacy Gmail FBI

Online privacy alert: Who’s reading your Gmail? It might be the FBI

Everybody knows that online privacy is in the eye of the beholder. Just as the government is working toward lessening attacks on our internet from other countries, the FBI is stepping up its game on the home front – and it wants to look at your Gmail when you send it.

So much of preventing the unwanted use of your data is simply knowing that you are being watched online by others. The FBI already has the ability to check copies of messages sent through Gmail and other providers after the fact, but it wants more: the chance to monitor such interactions as they are happening. Andrew Weissmann, the organization’s general counsel, has asserted that live online services of many different kinds are being used to perpetrate illegal purposes, requiring more surveillance. And the feds are not stopping there, also championing to gain access to messages sent on iPhones.

While it’s obviously good to keep an eye on the bad guys, businesses and individuals need to be aware that their information could be under scrutiny. Many are careless with the kinds of data they share with others, and this should serve as a reminder that the things you send to others could be viewed at a later date. Online privacy protection requires a strong understanding of the way this information gets shared, just as it necessitates caution in the way we represent ourselves and communicate on the web.

As the capabilities of both the government and the criminals they fight expand, it may take an online privacy expert to help confused users navigate these sometimes treacherous new waters while keeping themselves afloat.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on security, identity and reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.