Google tries to decrease privacy fears

Google no longer scanning emails for ads

By Ashley John - Digital Marketing Consultant.

Last month, we wrote about Google Personal, and what that could herald for the users of Google's services. The battle between privacy and personalisation continues this month with Google revealing in a blog post that it will soon no longer be using automated software to go through consumers’ personal emails for advertisement targeting purposes.

Google has made this decision in an attempt to restore confidence among business users, who were beginning to doubt Google’s standards of privacy.

Why goes Google read emails?

When Gmail was launched in 2004, it began reading personal emails in order to offer account users personal and tailored ads; Google later clarified this practice in their terms and conditions in 2014.

Google uses automated software to scan through incoming and outgoing emails to check for keywords and other clues which could create a more personal experience for the user. It should be noted that this software is only used on customers of the free version of Gmail for personal use, paid business users of G Suite have never had their emails scanned for ad-targeting purposes. Now, Diane Greene, the senior vice president in charge of Google Cloud, has stated that later this year, neither G Suite users or Gmail free users will have their emails scanned for ad-related reasons.

Privacy concerns are still rife

While this change may comfort some people, it is worth remembering that Google will still scan emails to pick up on potential spam, hacking and phishing attempts, this is true for free Gmail users, and paying users of G Suite.

Google will also continue to tailor ads based on a user’s profile, including Google searches, browsing history and by tracking location, which means that Google still has access to a user’s personal information to tailor ads. Along with the above, Google will still use automated software to scan emails to continue the successful implementation of their SmartReply feature, which means that emails still aren’t 100% private.

It should be noted that Gmail is not the only email service that scans through the emails of its users. In 2014, it was exposed that Microsoft Hotmail had been reading the personal emails of users without disclosing this information. There was also the Yahoo email hack in 2015 which revealed that emails were being scanned for the US Government.

As more and more of our daily lives and activities take place online, it becomes increasingly more important to be aware of our individual privacy; our online lives may not be as private and secure as you might think!

Calls for online decryption, and more lax privacy to give governments a backdoor into online usage has been a recent topic, especially in the UK, which shows that our online experience could become even less private. Do you know what you’re agreeing to when accept online Terms & Conditions?

Are you considering upgrading your website to HTTPS in order to increase security, or are you looking for a consultation on making your website more secure? Get in touch today for more information.


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