Google’s popular Gmail, got a terms of service update that explicitly states what Google does with emails. The new policy marks that all incoming and outgoing emails are analyzed by automated software.
The new policies state that Google’s automated system scans the contents inside each email stored in Google’s servers, as well as sent and received emails. This applies to all Google email’s running through Gmail or other services.
In light of the new policies, a Google spokesperson said, “We want our policies to be simple and easy for users to understand. These changes will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we’ve received over the last few months,” the Guardian reported.
The system scans email contents for spam and malware, as many other providers do, but is also in support with Google’s advertised “priority inbox” service, as well as targeted advertising. The automated scanning goes beyond blacklisting malicious emails.
Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights group told the Guardian, “This is not the worst thing Google does”, “But like anything like this, if people are concerned about it they should be able to completely switch it off if they want to.”
The news that Google scans emails is not as much news, as it is Google blatantly admitting to scanning emails. Google has scanned emails, youtube, websites, and targeted internet users for years to tailor advertisements. This is for Google and its publishers to attract ads that the user will be more inclined to click.
The new terms of service state:
“Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”
The Guardian reports that the indexing of and scanning of such emails with no opt-out, could be violating the US law, Ferpa, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The law is for safe guarding student educational records and documents.
Google scans emails for advertisements, tracks users with analytics, cookies, and carries out various other tasks to “tailor” to internet users needs. It is similar to actions the NSA takes to track and surveil users around the world.
Just last month Google started to encrypt all emails by default, and now new automated polices will scan the email contents regardless.