Google ceases scanning email for ad targeting


When Google launched Gmail in 2004, the new service rapidly gained acceptance because it offered far more storage space than any other comparable service. From the beginning, however, Gmail scanned the contents of emails to help the company generate contextual ads. Scanning has never applied to the email service it offers paying corporate customers as part of G Suite. In 2017, Google announced it would end scanning email in the consumer service, largely to end confusion among the corporate customers it was trying to court. Google still scans email for other purposes: combating spam, hacking and phishing attempts, and to enable its "smart reply" feature, which suggests replied based on previous emails. The company noted that the free version of Gmail would still carry advertising, but that these would now be targeted using other user information such as search and browsing histories, and location tracking, like other Google services.

Writer: Alex Hern

Publication: Guardian

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