At present, Google can and does scan the emails of its free users for keywords which are then used to optimise advertising matches. In a surprise move, Google has announced plans to stop this practice before the year is out.
But for a company whose profitability is dependent on advertising revenue, this has naturally aroused a degree of suspicion amongst its users. While some may see this as a win for personal liberty, it seems the aim is to put Google‘s paying customers of G Suite at ease, rather than its far greater array of free users.
G Suite, Google‘s corporate focused office software, has 3 million businesses as users and was always exempt from campaigns of targeted advertising, but there has been confusion amongst those users surrounding this. Google is intending to put the confusion to an end once and for all, by confirming blanketly that none of their users will be monitored – in order to satisfy their G Suite customer’s concerns, even though those customers weren’t ever monitored themselves. About the changes, Diane Greene of Google’s Cloud division has stated: “what we’re going to do is make it unambiguous.” Still, if you’re a free user, Google is far from keeping its fingers out of your inbox.
For some time now, your Gmail inbox has been fair game, and advertisers could even access your calendar and life-management apps – the best example being the flight itineraries that somehow make themselves known in your calendar. This also stretches to dinner reservations and everyday appointments. Gmail updates have recently included a new feature with the option of accurate predictive responses to your emails.
These conveniences are maintained, in part at least, with a watchful eye over your inbox. It is important to reiterate that Google will not stop scanning your emails entirely, but it will stop using the information for personalised advertising.
As invasive as email scanning may sound, it is unlikely any human is going through your personal details. More likely, a program that detects patterns and algorithms searches for keywords and superficially aligns them to appropriate advertisers. All comparable email providers engage in the same behaviour, and like it or not, practically any online presence is met with a blood promise of your data being stored. Social media is the biggest offender in that space.
Google will, of course, continue to show ads, but given just how much they already know about their users, such large, intensive campaigns may not even be necessary for advertising purposes anymore.