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Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails For Gmail Ads (bloomberg.com) 67

Google will soon stop scanning emails received by some Gmail users, a practice that has allowed it to show them targeted advertising but which stirred privacy worries. From a report: The decision didn't come from Google's ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers. Alphabet's Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google's senior vice president of cloud. "What we're going to do is make it unambiguous," she said. Ads will continue to appear inside the free version of Gmail, as promoted messages. But instead of scanning a user's email, the ads will now be targeted with other personal information Google already pulls from sources such as search and YouTube.
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Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails For Gmail Ads

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  • WHOA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Didn't see that coming.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I bet this is a pure money play. They likely realized ads for e-mail content have a lower return then from other data sources. Google has so many data sources on you, they no longer need e-mail content.

      • Congrats, you summarized the summary.
      • Microsoft has been a lot better in this market so far. They're willing to negotiate a custom deal with various privacy restrictions (including restrictions on where the data can be hosted) with largish deployments. Google's attitude has been a one-size-fits-all take-it-or-leave-it deal. TFS is also somewhat misleading: for at least some of their customers they've got in trouble in the past because they didn't disable scanning for the educational customers, they only disabled showing the ads. They were s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2017 @01:02PM (#54676461)

    We already know all about you and no longer need to continue to read your email.

    Besides, your sad, pathetic lives were depressing our mail reading Ad-bots.

    • by DeBaas ( 470886 )

      Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to read how to loose belly fat in just one week...

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @01:07PM (#54676477)

    Kidding aside, if they're no longer mining free users for useful information, it becomes nothing more than a vehicle for delivering ads. Given that Gmail is a gateway into the Google ecosystem for a lot of people, I seriously doubt that they'd kill it entirely, but I wouldn't bet on seeing any more major increases to the storage space allotted for the free tier.

    • The free tier is already at 15GB... how much more email space does a person need?

      • Isn't that 15GB across the Google ecosystem. So if you use Drive, or store full resolution photos, etc, then you could hit that pretty quickly.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The free tier is already at 15GB... how much more email space does a person need?

        It's not just email space anymore - it's actually shared space between GMail, GDrive and probably other services...

      • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
        17GB if you did a security check or whatever it was a few years back. Thing is though, that's not just your email space - it's the total of your Google storage space for Drive and Photos as well, so if you are really into the Google ecosystem it can add up fast. Sure, you can have multiple free accounts, but that removes a lot of the convenience. As the poster above said, "we already know all about you and no longer need to continue to read your email"; for some users Google has well into diminishing ret
        • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

          Google gets ~$200 per annum for each TB of disk sold in 100GB chunks, which is a pretty good RoI even before you factor in that Google is almost certainly doing a *lot* of de-duplication on the stored data.

          I'm not sure what deduplication you're referring to, but they definitely do a lot of duplication. Each piece of data you hand over to them is mirrored at least twice to prevent catastrophes. There may also be offline backups on tape.

          Plus if you can accept a slight quality loss, Photos gives you unlimited storage at "high quality".

          • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
            Many higher end SAN systems are capable of identifying duplicate copies of the same data in different locations and only saving one copy with some form of link for subsequent copies via a general process known as Data Deduplication [wikipedia.org], although there are also specific tweaks for specific storage types. In other words, if a thousand people have got the same document stored in their Google Drive, or received the same email to the GMail account, then Google's storage systems should be detecting that and dropping
      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
        Seriously? 15GB? Holy crap, I wonder how much junk mail is in my gmail account. I guess one of these days I'll have to login with a browser again, and wipe the all mail folder, just for grins.
    • I don't think they reasonably can shut it down while they have all these other services tied to it. They'd have to go to a lot of effort to un-tie them. It's probably easier just to keep gmail going than to do all of that, and this is a way to make it cheaper — by avoiding lawsuits.

      • It's more likely that over time it becomes less and less important (to Google), and the people who cared about it have moved on, and at that point they will just cut it off (whether or not it's popular seems to be irrelevant).
    • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

      The business model for Gmail ought to be outsourcing corporate email accounts - for a fee and with no spying whatsoever. Gmail for the rest of us could then continue as a loss leader to get corporations to sign up base on 'it's the email system we all use at home'. An interesting 180 flip from home users buying MS products because 'it's what I use at work'...

  • by al0ha ( 1262684 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @01:19PM (#54676583) Journal
    Google will no longer scan emails for the purposes of advertising targeting. They never said they would no longer scan emails altogether.

    Speak No Evil :P
    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @01:24PM (#54676617)
      Exactly. Google now scans your emails for a completely different, yet evidently more profitable, reasons.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not even. They won't use email content as the direct trigger for an ad, but they will still scan everything from non-paying customers and that shit goes on your permanent record.

      Try sending yourself some condolences from an external address and watch your gmail promoted tab fill up with shit about flowers and burial services. It's sickening.

    • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @01:45PM (#54676771) Homepage

      They never said they would no longer scan emails altogether.

      I'd be pretty pissed if they did. It's nice to grab your phone and see that evening's flight details, or get a reminder that you have a bill due in three days, etc.

      These are features that make my life easier and are only possible by having a computer scan my email.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        None of that is happening tho. They scan your emails to serve you ads. That's it. It isn't to make your life easier.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Albanach ( 527650 )

          None of that is happening tho. They scan your emails to serve you ads. That's it. It isn't to make your life easier.

          Maybe you don't have an android phone, or don't use Google Now? This stuff happens every day on Android. My phone lets me know where I parked my car - from the phone sensors, knows where I usually drive to on a Wednesday after work, so tells me the estimated travel time without any other entries, and will pull flight reservations, hotel bookings, bills due, package tracking and more straight f

      • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @02:33PM (#54677113) Journal
        Google sent me an email the other day telling me that it was going to start adding events to my calendar from ALL emails. They were telling me they were literally going to fill my calendar with spam appointments. I was auto-opted in and this would be be my only notification of it. How can you trust a calendar you cant explicitly control? I imagine a future where people show up to events they didnt sign up for simply because some spammer sent them a properly formatted email.

        Google is useful until it isnt. Dont fall in love with this 'feature', it will be used to spam you
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I imagine a future where people show up to events they didnt sign up for simply because some spammer sent them a properly formatted email.

          If you show up to something that you have no recollection of signing up for just because your phone's calendar said to, then you are an idiot.

          • by chihowa ( 366380 )

            I imagine a future where people show up to events they didnt sign up for simply because some spammer sent them a properly formatted email.

            If you show up to something that you have no recollection of signing up for just because your phone's calendar said to, then you are an idiot.

            Whew! It's a good thing that there a only a few idiots in our world, then. Situation averted.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DogDude ( 805747 )
        As a retailer, I agree. We love getting everybody's personal information. We get a ton of information from our merchant services providers (credit cards) and of course, from Google and Facebook. Keep using Google and Facebook! We love it!
    • I hope they don't stop scanning e-mails. Their spam filters wouldn't be very effective otherwise.

      Intent is everything.

  • This will pave the way for google managed [NSA approved] email encryption.

  • I'll no longer get ads to join the Secret Service as a security technician?
    • You've already been hired. The pay is zero dollars per month.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        You've already been hired. The pay is zero dollars per month.

        When a college roommate joined the FBI as a network technician, he got to carry a gun. Will the Secret Service let me carry a gun and take potshots at the malware?

  • People who use browsers to read emails deserve those ads.

    • It's deeper than that, I believe.

      I'm pretty sure it scans in the background as messages are received. The information is indexed and tied to your Google ID.

      As you browse websites that display google ads while signed in to your Google account, you will receive targetted advertising based on all congruent data indexed, including your email if you use Gmail.

      As well, if you have an Android device with Google Play, the targetted advertising will play a role in ads displayed in apps.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A number of years ago, when trying to get universities to outsource their email to gmail, google promised they wouldn't be scanning email for analytics, advertising, and tracking.

    They flat-out lied the entire time:

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-p... [arstechnica.com]

    Don't trust them.

    Don't get me wrong, google has lots of handy services, but don't trust anything they say.

  • Correction to Google headline:

    Google "says" it will no longer scan ... blah,blah.

    Their "promise" and $0.01 will buy me .... nothing.

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