Google Will Stop Data-Mining Student E-Mail Accounts

Did you have a high school or college e-mail account administered by your school? Whatever, Grandma: lately, many schools have migrated to using Google Apps for Education, which provides mail and a suite of other Google services to educators and students for free. Free, really? Surely there must be a catch. Say, that Google was indexing students’ messages in order to serve up more relevant ads to them elsewhere on the Internet.

See, one of the selling points of Google Apps for Education is that unlike regular old Gmail, it doesn’t scan the text of your messages and serve up related ads in order to pay for the whole endeavor. For standard Gmail users who don’t use ad-blocking software, these appear right alongside the messages. In theory, Apps for Education users weren’t supposed to see ads like these. Yes, Google would process the content of customers’ e-mails, but only for features like tagging certain messages as “important” or sorting them into the new “social media” and “Promotions” tabs. So they claimed.

The plaintiffs in a current lawsuit against Google claim that the company is using data gleaned from reading Apps for Education users’ mail in order to serve up more relevant ads elsewhere on the Internet, where many sites use Google’s Adsense service for their advertising.

A company spokesman told media outlets this morning that Google will also stop similar ad-scanning practices for businesses and governments that use Gmail for employee e-mail accounts.

Google Stops Scanning Student Gmail Accounts for Ads [Wall Street Journal]
Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages [Education Week]

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  1. MathManv2point0 says:

    It’s free. I want Google to find a way to monetize my use of their email so I keep getting it – for free.

    My school administered their email and the recommended mail client was …. Eudora.

    • furiousd says:

      Agreed, I think most people now expect advertising and related harvesting when a product is free. Which is why I wonder how my cable bill is so expensive and I still have to spend a third of the time watching ads…