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Why Gmail and other e-mail services aren't really free

Google's popular online e-mail service, which turns 10 Tuesday, may not charge for its Gmail accounts. But the company is still collecting payment in the form of massive amounts of personal information about the people who use it.
With an estimated 500-plus million users, Gmail has grown to dominate the Web-mail world. It has also repeatedly found itself in hot water over privacy. Gmail is facing multiple privacy lawsuits in the United States and Europe, some accusing the company of illegal wiretapping for scanning the content of e-mails.

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