Google will no longer go scanning through the Gmail accounts of students and other education users, promising that it will no longer be collecting or using their private data for advertising. The company had already switched off adverts for those using Google Apps for Education by default, but from today will also completely remote the option to turn them back on.
The new found push for privacy is billed as “protecting students,” even though Google itself was the one doing the keyword scanning.
From the start, Google Apps for Education didn’t show adverts by default, and as of 2013 Google had turned off Google Search adverts for those logged into their educational accounts. However, until now administrators had been able to optionally turn back on the adverts; today, that option has been removed from the control panel.
Meanwhile, Google says it’s also working on “similar changes” for other Google Apps customers. Alterations to how scanning and ads work on Business, Government, and legacy free Apps users will come in time, the company promises.
Google’s use of keyword scanning and automatic content analysis has always been controversial. Microsoft ran a long-standing “Scroogled” campaign in which it drew attention to the advertising system, though feedback from actual users on the promotion has been mixed.
Last year, Google provoked a reaction itself however, after having argued that its users had no expectations of privacy in using Gmail for their messaging.