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Google will stop snooping on your emails to target ads at you

Published Jun 23rd, 2017 3:16PM EDT
Gmail ad targeting
Image: Shutterstock

Gmail has always been a tradeoff: good free web email for everyone, but in return Google gets to (anonymously) scan your emails and use that data to target ads at you. Constantly buying soap on Amazon? Expect Dove commercials all over your search results.

That’s been the status quo until now. But according to a Google exec interviewed by the Financial Times, that’s all coming to an end.

Diane Greene, the head of Google’s cloud division, told the FT that Google’s well-known email scanning service was making it hard to get corporate clients for G Suite, Google’s business version of the Gmail and Google Drive system. Corporations are obviously concerned about a third party rooting through sensitive data, even if the data collection is done anonymously.

Greene’s hope is that ending data collection for corporate and consumer email accounts will entice more businesses onto the platform. It’s corporations that pay the bill: typically, a G Suite subscription costs a few dollars a month per user, with prices scaling differently for larger corporations or more features.

Ultimately, this is a win for consumers, who don’t have to pay anything, but will no longer see ads targeted based on the contents of their inboxes. This isn’t the end of Google’s ad targeting, though: information from search, YouTube, and virtually any other Google product you can think of will still be used to sell you that soap.