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What's Wrong With Google's Gmail Anti-Virus?

Google rolled out a new anti-virus component to its free e-mail service, Gmail. It augments the old protection, which merely blocks any attached executable file, such as those ending in the .EXE extension. The anti-virus technology provider behind the service is being kept secret. Free e-mail with free anti-virus protection. What's wrong with that?
Google rolled out a new anti-virus component to its free e-mail service, Gmail. It augments the old protection, which merely blocks any attached executable file, such as those ending in the .EXE extension. The anti-virus technology provider behind the service is being kept secret. Free e-mail with free anti-virus protection. What's wrong with that?Well, the problem is that the new anti-virus feature can't be turned off. And the blocking of executable files still can't be turned off.

It would be trivially easy and make total sense to turn on virus protection by default, but let users turn it off when they want to. There would be zero downside to Google for making anti-virus optional. Heck, I wouldn't even mind if it were hard to do, so that only advanced users could do it -- or if it were temporary, so that when you turned off anti-virus, it turned back, on in 24 hours.

This new move is yet another example of Google's newfound arrogance and contempt for customers. Or, to say it another way, the company doesn't treat its users as customers. Its message to users seems to be: "Hey, you're not paying for it, so you'll use our services the way we want you to. Period. Don't like it? Go somewhere else."

They seem to not know -- or care -- that some of the most active and advanced users hate -- HATE! -- having control taken away.

This is the behavior of a pseudo-monopolist with power beyond what any one company should have. They feel perfectly comfortable shafting users on a whim.

Remember when we used to whine and complain about Microsoft? Sure, you have to pay for most of their software. But at least they spend huge money and effort on trying to figure out what users want -- and give it to them.

OK, I'll admit I'm making a big deal about relatively little. But sometime recently we woke up and realized that Google was the most powerful company on the planet. Most reasonably active users -- including Yours Truly -- rely on Google services all day, every day, and never pay a penny for them. Take inventory. How dependent are you on Google for your everyday work? How much does Google know about you?

When you combine the power of Google, and the degree to which they have infiltrated our lives -- and then consider that they don't appear to give a rat's hiney about your preferences or privacy, well, it's reason for concern.