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Google’s changes to Gmail provoke more privacy fears

Google's privacy polices came under fire again on Friday regarding changes to its Gmail service, two days after it was fined by France for data protection violations.

Gmail users could soon receive messages from people with whom they have never shared their email addresses, following the latest in a string of moves to link Google's email service with its online social network, Google Plus.

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Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The change was revealed by Google Product Manager David Nachum in a post on Gmail's blog on Thursday. He explained that the pool of contacts available to Gmail users was being broadened to include connections on Google Plus, whose email addresses they might lack.

"Have you ever started typing an email to someone only to realize halfway through the draft that you haven't actually exchanged email addresses? If you are nodding your head 'yes' and already have a Google profile, then you're in luck, because now it's easier for people using Gmail and Google Plus to connect over email," said Nachum, who is based at the web giant's headquarters in Mount View, California.

"As an extension of some earlier improvements that keep Gmail contacts automatically up to date using Google Plus, Gmail will suggest your Google Plus connections as recipients when you are composing a new email," he continued.

Nachum said the changes would make it easier for Gmail and Google Plus users to connect, and that people were free to opt out of the new feature if they wished.

However, some privacy advocates said users should have been asked first whether they wanted their Gmail accounts to be linked to Google Plus in this manner, and that the feature should be opt-in rather than opt-out.

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