Many readers reacted to last week's column about Gmail. One wrote to tell how he used it to save and catalog the news by opening up printer-friendly...

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Many readers reacted to last week’s column about Gmail. One wrote to tell how he used it to save and catalog the news by opening up printer-friendly versions of stories and mailing them to himself.


Another said he had managed to fill the allocated 2 gigabytes by sending himself music files, but it was just to test the system. It worked.


And a third offered one of his 50 Gmail invites — allocated to each user — to any interested reader.


But there is one in every crowd. One correspondent was less effusive about Gmail’s expanded storage ability, even saying it was downright dangerous.


Proofpoint, in Cupertino, Calif., is an Internet-security company claiming that, in the header of a rather excitable e-mail, Gmail “builds a bigger getaway car for corporate criminals.”


Such theories come from paranoid minds or from people who don’t like losing money. The thesis is simple. With the huge amount of storage available, people can forward corporate secrets to their Web mail box, where they are less secure and totally out of the control of the data’s rightful owners.


Web mail providers need to be honest to stay in business; they can’t go prowling through user data. Even so, the environment is far less safe than the corporate intranet.


Proofpoint sells a corporate solution that controls the flow to and from the corporate servers, with more information available at www.proofpoint.com.


Senior product manager Rami Habal said the product is aimed at the careless or unaware: those who innocently forward company mail to their Web account in order to work at home, or those who are not security-minded. The company programs the product to recognize sensitive terms and prohibit their transmission to any named Web mail provider.


It requires stricter controls to restrain the malicious, who will always find some way to steal what they “need.” But those who work for corporations and have the inclination to mail work to a Web mail account need to check both the corporate policy and their conscience before making it a habit.


In the meantime, Habal points out how Gmail offers infinite storage to anyone. Each user gets 50 invitations, but if you invite yourself a few times, there is absolutely no limit.


You can create different accounts for separate projects. Just make sure you actually own all the material so archived.


As for myself, I am embarking on a vacation and have switched all activity to Gmail for the time being. As a result, I’ve gained 5 MB in a week. If this is a little startling, I take comfort in the fact that at this rate I will reach the current limit in about eight years.


If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at cbermant@seattletimes.com. Type Inbox in the subject field. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.