Google will no longer scan student and teacher Gmail messages or use data from Apps for Education for advertising purposes, the company told the WSJ today. The move comes after Google’s use of data from its education products came under fire by students and others during a court case last year that claimed the scanning violated user privacy rights.
The company’s director of Google for Education Bram Bout told the WSJ that all scanning of Gmail and any collection and use of data from Apps for Education, which includes Google Docs, will stop. Previously, ads weren’t included in education apps, but the company still scanned them for information to be used later in other areas to target ads to users. Google also said it’s looking at making similar moves in its Apps for business and for government products.
Google’s email and app scanning is all performed by robots, and none of the raw data is ever seen by humans according to the company, but it has still proven a means through which critics of the company (including Microsoft) have been able to try to tear it down. Google moving to end education customer scanning is a big step towards addressing criticism, and no small act by Google, since it means the company now has 30 million fewer data points from which to gather ad targeting insight.