Google just avoided providing the government with person-specific search data, but has to lift the hood on their engine for them nonetheless (whatever the hell that means).
Meanwhile, the center of the internet universe (according to some) has been ordered by a Federal Magistrate to turn over some crook’s Gmail account data, including any deleted emails.
With the search stuff, who cares? Everyone looking for bad stuff on the net most likely already knows where to find it. But in the second regard, I’d say this is a nail in the coffin for free, web-based email services. Even those folks (like me) who use services like Gmail on a “POP only, Delete After Download” basis now get to wonder when and where all those emails they thought they deleted might…well…er…pop up again.
I suspect that for many, Gmail is the defacto address for every Craigslist communication and email newsletter they don’t really want, so its not a problem. But, if you use such services to correspond with the attorneys forming your irrevocable trust, or set up meeting times with the boyfriend or girlfriend your husband or wife doesn’t know about, I’d say you could get finely screwed (not that you aren’t already, in either case). If these services become useless for anything but cat and mouse games with internet marketers, I don’t see longevity in them.
Of course, if your surreptitious liaison schedule is already wrapped in one of those extremely long encryption keys you generated for the sender, you aren’t going to care who gets their hands on that email – you’ll be the one in the coffin before anyone gets around to reading it.