It's taken a while, but the penny has finally dropped 'en mass' regarding the intended data usage around Gmail, going from a handful of media articles highlighting privacy concerns on days 2 and 3, to at least the 255 listed on Google News  at the time of this posting..

Now, while I understand where 'Jeff Putz' is coming from when he says 'so what?', I don't agree...

"You know, my mail server reads my clients' e-mail all of the time for the purpose of weeding out spam. Come to think of it, so do the other free e-mail services. But now, it's bad because the same process is being used to serve relevant ads to you. Huh. I'm not seeing the connection there to how this will contribute to the fall of Western Society."

As much as I personally don't mind the concept of machine-read automation for the purposes of spam filtering,  I do think the proposed privacy and terms of use for Gmail are more than a little spooky.   For me to use Gmail I'd either have to really, really trust Google...or be oblivious to its privacy policy:    How is the 'average' consumer going to react? - that is the $ point...And what is really creating the stir is not so much the targtting of ads through my email content, but this (from Gmail Google Privacy Policy page.):

"The contents of your Gmail account also are stored and maintained on Google servers in order to provide the service. Indeed, residual copies of email may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account."

...So according to this, *think* I can delete my data, but Gmail, explicitly intend to maintain copies *indefinitely* so they target me with ads based on my mail history...And if Google get bought, or sell on this service, then all the email you ever sent and received while using the service can be owned (at least for this purpose) by a completely different company...Lets see if this doesn't get revised - it may well not - as (I'm only guessing), the whole Gmail biz case may well ride on this contentious point...

(I should point out - I'm not trying to Google-bash - I like and use Google)