Google’s not going to be peeking in your inbox anymore.
The search giant announced Friday it will stop scanning user’s Gmail inboxes for ad personalization purposes. Instead the company will show users ads based on their activities on other Google sites and those of its partners – unless they opt out of such targeted marketing.
Google didn’t explain what prompted the change. But the company noted that it doesn’t scan the inboxes of people who get Gmail through its corporate-targeted G Suite service. And the change to Gmail will make ads on the service “in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products,” the company said.
Google didn’t say when it will make the change, only that it will happen “later this year.” Company representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Currently, Google scans Gmail users’ email for information that can be used to target them with particular ads. For example, if Google sees you’ve been getting a lot of messages about shoes, it might hit you with a deal from the Nordstrom on your block.
The company will continue to display such targeted ads in the future. They just won’t be based on your activities on Gmail, but instead on things like your Google searches, the YouTube videos you watch, the apps you use, and the websites you visit. You can opt out of those targeted ads – but not Google’s data collecting – by turning off “ad personalization” in your personal Google settings.
Google’s practice of scanning users’ email messages has long been controversial, and consumer advocates have long raised privacy concerns about it. Google’s change comes amid heightened concerns about the amount of personal data companies and businesses are collecting on consumers and the security of that data.
In addition to announcing the change to Gmail, Google crowed about G Suite’s recent performance. Usage of the service by large business has more than doubled over the past year, the company said. More than 3 million companies are now paying to use the service.