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article imageGmail stops scanning your emails to personalise its ads

By James Walker     Jun 26, 2017 in Technology
Google has announced it will stop scanning Gmail users for information used to personalise adverts. The company said it will bring the service inline with the enterprise G Suite version of Gmail. The decision has been welcomed by privacy campaigners.
Google confirmed the move last week, writing in a blog post that the change will be made "later this year." Once the transition is complete, no emails sent to consumer Gmail inboxes will be scanned for ad personalisation. This is already the case for G Suite inboxes.
Google started using the contents of emails to inform its targeted advertising back in 2004. The system is used to offset the cost of providing Gmail users with free cloud storage on Google Drive.
The company is alone in the industry in using this model. It has long been criticised by users, digital rights campaigners and its rivals for attempting to monetise private communications.
Microsoft has previously run adverts for its email service that explicitly point a finger at Google's email scans. The company claimed customers were being "scroogled," pointing out that people who don't use its cloud storage still can't turn the monitoring off.
Google has even faced lawsuits over its controversial stance on email scanning. The company has been accused of violating laws designed to protect personal privacy, wiretapping and the security of private information. Despite the widespread criticism from the entire tech community, Google has previously remained steadfast on its approach to the issue.
2017 is finally the year that Gmail will change. Google confirmed that all ads will now be shown based on the user's settings going forward. These settings, including ad personalisation, can be customised, letting customers opt out of targeted data collection entirely. There are no changes to G Suite which already has email scanning disabled and provides an ad-free inbox.
"G Suite's Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service," said Google. "Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products." The company added that Gmail now has over 1.2 billion users and 3 million companies are currently paying to access G Suite. The company claimed that Gmail is the safest online email provider and that privacy and security are "paramount" to its continued evolution of the service.
Customers may be more inclined to believe that once the intrusive email scanning is finally disabled. Google hasn't given a precise timeframe for when it'll be switched off by. It's also stopped short of saying whether it'll be notifying users nearer to the time, providing peace of mind that the monitoring is gone.
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