Google is Going to Stop Scanning Your Email for Ads: What to Know

Maybe it’s a good thing, but maybe it’s just something different. Hard to say.

If it always seems that as soon as you search for information about Canada’s Wonderland passes, car rentals, fishing tackle and grocery delivery options… and share that info you find with your relatives and friends over email… that the ads start popping up, you’re not alone.

“Personalized” banner ads and boxes that could be extremely useful but that many consumers likely simply find to be creepy are a standard thing for those who use Gmail as their email service.

Related: A Majority of Canadians Feel Their Personal Data is Vulnerable to Security Breach

The strange thing is, you’ve already Googled the information you need, right? So, do you really need the extra ad? Sure it’s a good way of reminding users of what they searched if they forget, but overall, it’s a bit of a grey area.

The good news is this: for those who dislike seeing ads directly related to their personal needs, wants and communication shared over email, it’s time to rejoice. Google is going to stop the practice.

According to recent reports, earlier this month the multinational tech company announced its decision to stop snooping over your shoulder at the content of your Gmail in order to place ads in front of you that may apply to your interests.

Privacy

Google has been doing this since 2004- in case you didn’t know- and is now apparently concerned that eaves dropping so obviously may actually cross some privacy lines. The company hasn’t stipulated exactly which lines it’s looking at with concern, but apparently privacy watchdogs have voiced their concerns enough so far, that Google has decided it’s a good idea to change course.

Gmail is currently the world’s largest email service, with Microsoft’s Outlook following in second, and Yahoo Mail in third place. Until they change the way things run, automated software analyze the content of your emails for information .

In 2014, Google updated its terms of service, stating,

“Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

While nothing was done about it once Google admitted to its practices, watchdogs and concerned citizens and lawyers felt that scanning everyone’s email could be in violation of a US law called Ferpa, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Ferpa is the primary law guarding student educational records in the U.S.

So, what does Google plan to do instead of scanning your email? Reports indicate that it will still show ads in your Gmail, but that the company’s software will use other methods to determine what ads to place in front of you. It’s probably replacing apples with pears, but nonetheless, the whole thing will somehow be slightly different.

So, if you’re part of the 1.2 billion Gmail users getting your email for free, now you know.

Photo credits: ymgerman/Bigstock; Maxxasatori/Bigstock

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