Google stops scanning student accounts for ads

 

Google will stop scanning students’ email accounts to use for advertising and won’t be posting any new ads on its educational applications, the company said on Wednesday.

In a blog post, the head of the company’s education effort, Bram Bout, said the new steps for its Apps for Education services were an effort to earn users’ trust by “protecting their privacy and providing the best security measures.”

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The free education service is used by more than 30 million teachers, students and administrators. It allows schools to use Google functions like email, calendars and documents.

Though advertisements were always automatically switched off for educational users, the new change prevents administrators from turning them on. The move also stops the scanning of trends in activity and code words in Apps for Education that Google previously used to market ads elsewhere on the Web.

“We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes,” Bout wrote.

He added that the company was working on making similar changes to government, business and some free users of its services, and would notify the public when those were complete.

The announcement follows the death of InBloom, a company backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that gathered student data but announced it was shutting down last week amid a public backlash. The company tried to consolidate student information so that teachers could access it more easily, but ran into trouble from people concerned its data dug too deeply.