Because I am an unreasonably trusting person, the kind that buys things at mall kiosks fully expecting that the refund policies are real, it had not occurred to me before today that Google might be scanning my emails in order to send me targeted ads. In retrospect, it’s something I should have expected, considering that once, when I bought a cage for my guinea pigs (it’s like a miniature Shawshank), I got nothing but ads for guinea pig cage liners for a week*, but until Google announced they’d be stopping the practice, I, like you (probably) was going through life thinking no one but me and whoever checked my email when I forgot to log out at the Apple Store knew what newsletters I was getting.
According to The Verge, which cites this practice as long-standing and therefore well-known, Google revealed their plans to stop scanning your inbox in a blog post written by Diane Green, the company’s cloud division head this morning. The company already doesn’t scan the emails of its corporate clients and, in order to bring more alignment and lessen confusion about its stance on privacy, they’re going to stop checking basic consumer accounts, too.
“G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service,” Green wrote in today’s blog post. “Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”
The company will still be able to “parse” (read: search through) your search history, meander through your YouTube account, and check out whatever else it is that you’re doing when you’re signed in while using Chrome, but it’s not going to look through your emails anymore. So if you’re planning a wedding or going to a yoga class, Google, at least, won’t know about it any longer.
*I eventually bought them because they were really cute.