Americans Concerned About E-Mails Being Scanned

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<strong>Philadelphia &mdash; Sept. 2</strong><br />Almost half (46 percent) of American consumers admit to having concerns about their free e-mail provider scanning personal e-mails for advertising purposes, according to research released today by GMX, the free e-mail service with more than 11 million active users. <br /><br />From those that use a free e-mail service, an alarming 30 percent did not know it was common practice for large e-mail providers to scan private e-mails for keywords that are linked to targeted advertising. The survey of 1,008 consumers also found Americans are heavily reliant on their free e-mail services, with 80 percent of Americans using one to three separate personal accounts.<br /> <br />The GMX &ldquo;Attitudes toward Email&rdquo; study found that while members of the American public are heavy users of free e-mail services, 46 percent of Americans were worried about how most free e-mail services allow the content of their e-mails to be scanned suitable advertisements to be placed around them. Negative responses ranged from embarrassment to anger. <br /> <br />More than one-third of Americans (37 percent) believe users should be able to opt out of such scanning. Twenty-one percent of respondents were not bothered by the practice and only 3 percent believed that the practice was in their best interest. Remarkably, the study reveals that a further 30 percent of the U.S. public is unaware that free e-mail providers routinely allow their users&rsquo; e-mails to be scanned for tailoring ads. <br /> <br />Eva Heil, managing director at GMX, said, &ldquo;It is understandable that many Americans are wary about their private e-mails being scanned for advertising reasons. It is certainly important that every user is at least informed if this is done by their e-mail service. At GMX, we treat e-mails just like sealed letters, and so we will never scan private e-mail content in this way.&rdquo; <br /> <br />All e-mail providers, including GMX, automatically scan incoming e-mail content to identify spam e-mails; however, many competitors use private e-mail content in the body of an e-mail to target advertising to the individual user. The analysis of this content seems to be a sore point for many consumers. <br /><br />There is a stark contrast between consumers&rsquo; everyday reliance on free e-mail services and their uneasiness about their privacy. The figures lend weight to the assumption that most free e-mail users take the scanning of e-mails to be the &ldquo;price&rdquo; they pay for using a free service. <br /><br />Heil added, &ldquo;Most users only realize that their personal e-mails are being scanned after noticing strangely optimized ads around their inbox. Consumers should bear in mind that they have a choice of free e-mail services that don&rsquo;t do this. If they are uncomfortable with the practice, they should seek out a provider that focuses on privacy and does not scan e-mail content.&rdquo; <br />

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