One thing that we all need to keep in mind is email is like writing a postcard. Whomever is managing the server can read the contents therein. What does that mean? More specifically, if your email is going out over the internet and there are servers between your email server, and the person you are interacting with. That mail can be read.
Now is the government reading your mail? The answer to that question depends on the government. In the US, if the American government wants access to your email and you’re in the country, they’re get it. If your someone in your company was shortsighted enough to implement Gmail or Google Apps for your company, then you can be assured that Google is reading your mail as well. They have to, as selling your information is how they provide free services such as email, maps, street services, and so forth. That is not limited to Google.
How can you attain a bit more privacy with your email?
-Avoid using a free email service (Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, GMX, etc), get your own domain and host it somewhere.
-Stay away from huge companies as they can be easily hacked with thousands of users. That’s the cyber attacker’s delight.
-Look into hosting offshore. It makes it harder for other countries to get your information (our data and email is all hosted in Japan on http://www.QuickerWeb.com).
Back to the question of the government reading your email. When the US government had Japanese company Toyota into testify to the US Congress, having their data in the United States would have had Toyota at a disadvantage. The US courts could raise all the information they wanted in that case. However, having their information back in their home country kept some privacy for them.
The concept of cloud that is being marketed heavily is just, “your data on remote servers”. It is nothing new. What is new is the increased speed of the internet that allows more services to be delivered over the world wide web. If you access something via the net, chances are it can be broken into. You may want to take things offline so that they cannot be accessed from the outside.