Privacy advocates have long criticized Google's practice of using email data to tailor advertising, but now the company is putting an end to the method. However, Google's senior vice president of cloud Diane Greene tells Bloomberg that some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications.
Users of the company's free Gmail service have had their emails scanned for years in order to display targeted ads based on the contents of their emails.
The move effectively brings the widely-used email service in line with its enterprise offering, G Suite. Google also still scans the content of emails to screen out malware and spam, and could continue scanning messages to help power its Smart Reply feature (which creates robot-generated responses to incoming email that users can select with a click). This is already the case for G Suite inboxes.
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Gmail will still feature ads for users of the free, consumer version.
Google is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to sell ads.
GOOGLE HAS announced a major change that it hopes will silence critics of its privacy. Click on that, and you'll have to go a tab called 'Manage Ad settings'.
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The email scanning only happened within personal accounts, with business accounts - part of the G Suite - being exempt from the practice. In a nutshell, we will still get personalized ads but in a more sophisticated way that no longer explicitly scans the contents of our emails.
More than 1.2 billion people use Gmail and soon users of the free account will have the option to switch off ads personalisation. The company also previously allowed users to opt out of targeted ads based on data via the same page.
Greene said that Google now has more than 3 million paying customers for its G Suite service of productivity apps, which includes Google Docs, Drive, Calendar, Slides, and Sheets.
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The US District Judge Lucy Koh in March had said that the settlement was hard to understand and does not disclose the fact that Google incepts, scans and analyses the emails sent by non-Gmail users for the objective of creating target advertising for Gmail users.