Google announced on Friday that it will stop scanning the content of Gmail users’ emails for targeting ads. The internet advertising giant is putting an end to this intrusive data mining practice which has faced mounting objections and consternation over users’ privacy since its inception.
Google Cloud Senior Vice President Diane Greene announced in a June 25 blog post:
“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 personalise ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalisation.”
The brand further explained that Gmail in G Suite, the company’s enterprise solution, is not used for ads personalization and Google has decided to expand this policy to the free version of the Gmail service. G Suite offers a host of premium paid services including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Google Drive, etc. as part of its enterprise package.
The Internet giant reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit in the matter earlier this year, 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.”
Privacy advocates have long raised concerns that the scanning of email contents amounts to unwarranted “eavesdropping” of users’ conversations.
Multiple reports still suggest that ads will still be a part of the consumer version of Gmail and these ads will now be customized based on data that Google continues to collect from its search metadata, YouTube, website trafficking Analytics, etc. Users can always opt out and disable this feature in the “Settings” menu.
To change this feature or edit the privacy settings of your Gmail account, click on the Personal Info and Privacy tab in the Gmail Settings menu and search for the Ad Settings option. Click on it and go to Manage Ad settings. Users may find the option to turn off the Ads Personalization feature for his/her account in this area of the account settings. Simply toggle off to disable the ads personalization for that account, though Google will continue showing ads to it using random general anonymous data.