Google to stop scanning email for advertising data
Google will stop scanning the emails of free Gmail accounts to collect data for targeted advertising, the company said Friday in a surprise announcement.
For years, Google scanned users emails for data that was used by advertisers to serve more personalized ads.
A user who received a lot of emails about dogs may have seen a text ad for a veterinary office at the top of the Gmail inbox.
To be exempt from the surveys, users had to pay for a business email account through Google's G Suite platform, but now Google will stop the practice.
"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," Diane Greene, senior vice president overseeing Google Cloud, wrote in a statement. "Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change."
Greene said Google will use data provided by free Gmail users to personalize ads.
"This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products," she said. "Ads shown are based on users' settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization."
Google will continue to show ads in the free version of Gmail but unlike G Suite.
Gmail is the world's most popular email service, with more than 1.2 billion users. More than 3 million users pay for Gmail through G Suite, a combination of Google's business software that was launched last year.
Google will continue scanning emails for data -- an integral part of Gmail since it was launched 13 years ago.
Much of the data is meant to help users, like taking information about an upcoming flight or concert and adding it to a calendar. Gmail also scans emails to help filter spam.