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Free email services like Gmail or Yahoo aren’t really free. You pay with your privacy. When you sign up for an account and hit “yes” on the Terms and Conditions, you’re probably missing the fine print, which allows them to scan and analyze every email you send.

Your email inbox has a detailed profile of you and your personal life. All of your personal messages, like your financial or medical records, are forever locked in their servers. They use this to target you with intrusive ads that follow you around the internet — or sell your profile to the highest bidders.

What exactly do they capture and what can you do about it? Keep reading.

When you sign up for a free email, you’re signing away all of your secrets

According to Statista, people send and receive over 306 billion e-mails daily. Imagine how much data is contained in each of these messages.

Your email inbox is the hub of your digital life. Travel receipts pop up in your email, as do shopping receipts, messages from your medical provider and monthly bills from your online bank.

And if you use a free email, that means all that information goes straight into the pockets of Big Tech companies. Let’s say you’re a Gmail user. Here’s everything Google knows about you:

  • Your purchases.
  • Your web and app activity.
  • Your YouTube searches and watch history.
  • Your reservations.
  • Your subscriptions.
  • Your location history.

Sure, you can opt out of some of these services. But the data Google already collected is firmly in its databases. There’s no way to take back what you’ve given away.

For most of its existence, Google has used your personal emails to target you with ads. It announced an end to this practice in 2017. But you’ll still see personalized ads in your inbox; these are based on the mountain of data Google has already collected on you.

Data tracking is an issue across all free emails

Two years ago, Yahoo and AOL were busted for scanning people’s emails to sell to advertisers. They scanned over 200 million inboxes for information on what users bought, searching for travel receipts and store data to better pinpoint which ads to target people with.

The vice president of data at Oath, Yahoo’s parent company, defended the company’s actions to the Wall Street Journal. “Email is an expensive system,” Doug Sharp told reporters. “I think it’s reasonable and ethical to expect the ‘value exchange,’ if you’ve got this mail service and there is advertising going on.”

That idea of a value exchange lies at the heart of every free email inbox. There’s no free lunch, just like there’s no such thing as a free email inbox. Companies don’t give away this incredible resource out of goodwill. They offer free services so they can mine your data for profit.

Things haven’t changed. Just check out Yahoo’s current privacy policy. “Verizon Media’s systems may analyze and store all communications content, including email content from incoming and outgoing mail, as well as incoming and outgoing messages to messaging apps,” it says.

Not very inspiring, is it? Although it’s illegal to open up an envelope on your neighbor’s doorstep, there are no laws stopping tech companies from rifling through your private messages.

When it comes to free email, you get what you pay for

Privacy is a fundamental human right. We’re under constant surveillance from big tech companies — but we don’t have to be. Many people hand away their power without ever knowing there’s another option.

You don’t have to swallow surveillance; it’s not inevitable. You can protect your email data from being hacked, tracked or abused. You can also shield your inbox from mass surveillance, government or advertisers.

The trick is to research the best inbox for your needs. You may have to buy your own private email, but it’s money well-spent for protecting your privacy. After researching the safest email inboxes that prioritize your privacy, Kim found the best option on the market: our sponsor, StartMail.

Put your privacy first

StartMail was built to safeguard your data, activity and privacy. That means every email stays private between you and your recipient — no middleman is sneaking around the scene, writing down all of your secrets to sell to advertisers.

Your inbox is encrypted for extra privacy and security; plus, this avoids mass surveillance. You don’t have to worry about a company reading, scanning or analyzing your mail. You won’t see any ads, and there isn’t a company creating a secret customer profile of you that it will sell to advertisers.

Here’s why we like it so much:

  • You get unlimited anonymous aliases to protect your main address from spam and phishing attacks, and that can be deleted at any time. (So when you give out your email to a company you don’t know, you can protect your identity and delete it if they sell your address.)  
  • You can send private emails to everyone using password-protected messages.
  • When you delete an email, it is gone forever.
  • You can easily encrypt all your email communication. 
  • You can use it from your phone.
  • They use their own servers. Unlike Parler, which was hosted on Amazon servers, it can’t be shut down by Big Tech.
  • Protected by European GDPR – the most stringent privacy laws in the world.

Protect your freedom. Take back control. Sign up now at and get 7 days free to try it out, plus 50% off your first year. App background

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