Google can and does monitor people – perhaps upwards of 90 percent of Internet users worldwide – whether they use a Google product or not, and most people have no idea they’re being monitored.
To make my point, I pursued a hunch. I expanded the header of the last email the editor had sent me. The header you normally see contains just four fields: From, To, Date, and Subject. But most email systems allow you to see much more. When you expand a header, you see many lines of technical information, including the names of the various computer servers through which the email passed on its way to you.
Sure enough, the editor’s email had been routed through a Google server. How and why this routing was put in place, I don’t know, but it appears that all outgoing emails from the magazine’s staff run through Google, a company that has been known to scan email content. If you’ve ever received targeted ads that seem related to recent emails you’ve sent, you were probably scanned. The company can hardly deny that it scans; Buzz, the failed social network Google launched in 2010, was built entirely around information in Gmail messages that revealed who was friends with whom.