It’s not really a secret that Google built its massive wealth on advertising, but the measures it takes to deliver relevant ads to users haven’t always gone over well. One particular data collection method that Google has used involves Gmail – up until now, Google has scanned user Gmail accounts to help it build profiles on those users. Those profiles, in turn, allow Google to deliver relevant ads that are more likely to draw in clicks.
As far as Google services are concerned, Gmail has likely been a treasure trove for user information. That’s where people get personal messages for all sorts of things, from work, to private life, to receipts for online purchases. It’s easy to see why Google would want to scan Gmail messages, but on the other side of the coin, it’s understandable that users would be uneasy about that.
Today, however, Google signaled that it will move away from this policy. In a blog post today, Senior VP for Google Cloud Diane Greene announced that soon, free Gmail users will enjoy the same benefits that enterprise customers who pay for G Suite already have. Data in G Suite’s Gmail isn’t scanned for ad personalization, and soon, we’ll be able to say the same about every Gmail user around the world.
This will likely make a lot of free Gmail users very happy. Greene tells Bloomberg that this move was made to reassure G Suite customers that their email will not be scanned – there was some confusion over the fact that free consumer accounts were being scanned, so Greene says this change should make the distinction “unambiguous.”
She also says that free Gmail users will continue to see ads, but the contents of your email will no longer be informing what you see. Of course, while Google will start keeping its nose out of your email, it will continue collecting information on your online habits in other ways, monitoring the web searches you carry out and the YouTube videos you watch. While we’re a long way away from complete privacy from Google’s prying eyes (and will almost certainly never get there), the company’s decision to stop pulling information from Gmail certainly is encouraging.