Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

Google's Gmail service will no longer scan the contents of user emails, relying instead on other data for personalized ads
Google's Gmail service will no longer scan the contents of user emails, relying instead on other data for personalized ads

Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched.

A Google statement said Gmail users would still see "personalized" ads and marketing messages but these would be based on other data, which may include search queries or browsing habits.

Google Cloud senior vice president Diane Greene said in a blog that the free Gmail service would now follow the same practices as its corporate G Suite Gmail.

"Consumer Gmail will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change," Greene said.

"This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users' settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization."

Privacy activists have long complained that the scanning of contents amounts to unwarranted "eavesdropping" on users.

The internet giant earlier this year reached a settlement in a in the matter, but a federal judge rejected the deal as inadequate.

US District Judge Lucy Koh ruled in March that the settlement was difficult to understand and "does not clearly disclose the fact that Google intercepts, scans and analyzes the contents of emails sent by non-Gmail users to Gmail users for the purposes of creating user profiles of the Gmail users to create targeted advertising."

Danny Sullivan, founding editor of the online blog Search Engine Land, called the move a "big change" for Gmail, noting that the scanning of email contents "has been the biggest hit against the services since it began."

But Sullivan wrote on Twitter: "On the other hand, does it reassure consumers to know that Google has better info now about how to target them than by reading their emails?"

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© 2017 AFP

Citation: Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting (2017, June 23) retrieved 15 July 2019 from
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User comments

Jun 24, 2017
I suspect the governments in the world, in the various locations they may be, will probably force google to keep the mechanism of reading all emails - in place.

that they say it is off line but for government based 'self security' reasons, it will still be available and that goggle may be obligated, legally --- to keep it entirely functional.

Jun 24, 2017
I suspect that most of the Gmail users have no idea that Google was looking at the contents of all of their both sent and received emails. So outrageous that Google did this and customers went along with it. But, I side with Google in this case. This activist judge should not force Google to change. Instead, it should be a wake up call for all Google users that they should find another service that is more private. I for one have never relied on Google for email, and have always paid for my email service.

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