2021-08-13 Gmail slowly disappearing from my life

I’m slowly getting rid of Gmail. I’ve been doing that for many years, now. Today, I once again went to Google Takeout and downloaded my entire Gmail mail archive, and once I had it, fired up Evolution, connected it to my Gmail account, and deleted all the mails in the “[Gmail]/All Mail” folder. I don’t want them to go snooping through all that. Mails sent to my Gmail account still end up in my regular mail account. This is important because I think old email addresses should not expire, just like old URIs should not disappear. It’s important for password recovery, most of all! I’m not about to go through the hundreds of passwords tied to email addresses and change them. But I don’t hand it out anymore; I don’t reply from it anymore.

Google Mail was cool. Free mail! Huge storage! Excellent spam filtering!

But my dislike of this low-level surveillance made me move to Migadu, and I’ve been pretty happy about it.

Make no mistake, however. As I’ve written elsewhere, Switzerland is not a happy place. Big email providers have to store email metadata for six months. The highest court in Switzerland thinks this is OK, where as the European Court of Human Rights disagrees. Yuck!

Bereits vor einiger Zeit haben wir darüber berichtet, welche Gesetze das Speichern der Vorratsdaten erlauben und, dass diese nach Ablauf der gesetzlich vorgesehenen Speicherfrist von 6 Monaten durch die Provider zu löschen sind. Der folgende Beitrag aktualisiert einen früheren Artikel und dient als Handreichung für Verantwortliche, die sich mit der aktuellen Fassung des Bundesgesetzes betreffend die Überwachung des Post- und Fernmeldeverkehrs (BÜPF) befassen. – Überwachung von Internet, E-Mail & Co. in der Schweiz, von Claus Gawel, für die Digitale Gesellschaft

Yeah. I could self host. I tried it. I felt it was a lot of work and anxiety.


I’ve been on the same journy for a few years too. Probably never going to delete my gmail account either, but I’ve switched my daily driver to be Tutanota. The reason for that choice was that they seemed to be the only privacy-focused email provider that would let me use my own domain with all the cool DNS features, while charging a very small fee. I’m no expert on German vs Swiss privacy laws, but the former seems to have an upper hand there. Self-hosting email is indeed anxiety-inducing...

– Johan E 2021-08-16 09:44 UTC

Yes, I agree with your assessment of German privacy law: on the one hand, the GDPR is a strong backbone and on the other hand the fact that Germany has a constitutional court that has invalidated numerous attempts by the lawmakers to pass unconstitutional laws is very encouraging.

– Alex 2021-08-16 11:05 UTC

I have/had the same issue with Gmail. Setting up a mail server is some work, but is instructive too. On a Debian system, I have opensmtpd, dovecot (IMAP server), rspamd (spam filter and DKIM signing) and prayer (for webmail). This works out quite well. I have included a link to a nice tutorial.

– hello 2021-08-27 20:09 UTC

Thanks for the links. I’ve done it before. It just kept feeling like a huge amount of brittle infrastructure and I never felt secure and comfortable. Always some mails hang in the queues, for example. Who takes care of those?

I had a mail server set up on a Raspberry Pi a long time ago; sadly my notes are in German:

– Alex 2021-08-27 23:19 UTC

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