Who’s reading your emails?

Ever wonder who else is looking at your emails?


Michael Severance, Cen10 News Reporter

Frisco Independent School District gives every student a gmail account, this gives them an easy way to contact each student, and gives each student access to their own google drive. All that’s great, but what’s the catch? Is there a fisd administrator looking over every email you send or receive?

I went to our Centennial tech wizard Penny Matos with these questions, here is what she said in a nutshell.

There is someone at the fisd administration that can look through student emails, but there is only one time that she could ever remember that being done. So yes, it’s possible they could go through every email students send, but why?
The people with access to our emails have better things to do, they only do it when they have a reason, and that almost never happens.

So FISD rarely pokes around in our student emails, but what about google?

pile o emailsGmail is a supposedly free email service hosted by google that, as of november 2015 has the more users than that of any other email client. They give each normal user 15 GB of data free, and students are given unlimited storage. But why would google just make a service like that free? It’s not exactly profitable to store four hundred twenty five million accounts worth of information for free.

Well the answer is actually pretty simple. Gmail isn’t free.

While it’s true you don’t pay for it with money, you do pay in another way. Gmail scans every single one of the emails sent or received by anyone using their service, they do this so that they can better customize ads to each person.

For example, if someone was to get several emails about music, google might use that information to show that person an ad for a music service. Google gets a paid for putting ads on websites, and they get paid more if that ad does well, so it’s easy to see how knowing what each of their users would be most likely to click on would be beneficial for them.

This is something that goes on in the background and that cannot be turned off or prevented. So, is this legal? Well, yeah, the user actually agrees to it in the google terms and conditions. It seems like email scanning is here to stay

Now that’s for your average gmail user, what about students? Can they just scan the email of students using google apps for their school? This is where the email scanning has caused trouble for google.

Acts such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, protect students from google’s act of scanning emails. Before last year, google scanned student emails the same as any other account. This caused several lawsuits for google and as of April 2014, google has stopped scanning student emails, and doesn’t even show ads while students are logged in. That sounds great and all, but how do we know they actually stopped?

The only reason people even noticed the scanning in the first place is because they saw ads related to their emails, now that we aren’t seeing ads how could we even know if they are scanning our emails? Maybe student information is useful to them in another way, and they only stopped showing ads to get rid of the lawsuits.

It’s not like I have any proof of that, just something for you guys to think about.

To sum everything up FISD rarely looks through student emails, and google claims they never touch them. But they scan every email on normal gmail accounts. It really comes down to personal opinion though, are you willing to sacrifice a little privacy for the sake of convenience and no cost, or would you rather pay and have more peace of mind when it comes to your privacy.  google