It looks like students will finally be free from the prying eyes of Google. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Google will no longer scan student email accounts running through the Google Apps for Education program in order to serve up advertisements. Apps for Education offers free Web-based email, calendar and documents to over 30 million students and faculty, and although Google did not place ads within the apps, it continued to scan every message sent through Gmail to target students in other online locations.
The trouble began when a group of Gmail users, including students, sued Google last year for violating wiretap laws through its practice of email scanning. Google admitted that its scanning extended to the accounts of students who use Apps for Education, prompting Education Week magazine to report that Google might be violating Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Once Microsoft got involved, it was only a matter of time before the case escalated.
Bram Bout, director of Google for Education, confirmed that the company would stop its potentially illegal activity immediately. The company will no longer collect data from Apps for Education users or use any gathered data for advertisements. Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Government are expected to receive similar adjustments in the near future.