Google to stop reading your Gmail to help sell ads

FILE - This March 23, 2010, file photo shows the Google logo at the Google headquarters in Brussels. Silicon Valley’s biggest businesses could face tougher regulations following Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union. In recent years, the EU’s chief antitrust cop has accused Google of thwarting competition by using its dominant search engine to drive traffic to its own services. And the EU is adopting stricter rules limiting how much personal information online ad companies such as Google and Facebook can collect from Europeans. Analysts say that the U.S. tech industry could face even tougher rules without Britain serving as a moderating counterbalance against countries that have taken more aggressive stances on regulation. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to sell ads.

The change announced Friday will end a practice that Google has embraced since the company introduced Gmail in 2004. The practice has raised concerns among privacy watchdogs and creeped out some users.

To help finance the free service, Google has been scanning through what Gmail users were discussing and then showing ads connected to some of the topics. Someone writing about running, for instance, might see ads for Nike or Asics shoes.

Google still plans to show ads within Gmail. But instead of scanning through email content, the company’s software will rely on other signals to determine which ads are most likely to appeal to each of its 1.2 billion Gmail users.

The Mountain View, California, company said it would stop the ad-driven scanning of Gmail later this year.

Google says it’s changing course so its free Gmail service operates more like the subscription version that it has sold to more than 3 million companies. The paid Gmail doesn’t include ads, so the company has never tried to scan the content of those users’ emails for marketing purposes.

Yet some business customers might have believed incorrectly that Google was scanning those accounts as well. By ending all scanning, Google can put such concerns to rest as it tries to sell the service to even more businesses.

Gmail now ranks as the world’s largest email service, an indication that most people didn’t care about Google’s scanning methods. Both Microsoft and Apple have publicly skewered Google for having the audacity to mine users’ emails for ad sales, but those attacks didn’t undercut Gmail’s popularity.

STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

BACK TO TOP STORIES

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s