Google is giving up on scanning emails of users of Apps for Education, which means that the company is giving up on a slice of its advertising money.
Apps for Education is used by schools for children ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. The service allows users to take advantage of various free online applications including Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheet, to name a few.
According to Google, there are about 30 million students, administrators and teachers using the service.
Ads in Apps for Education have actually been disabled by default, but admins could turn them on at any time if they so desired. Now, however, Google has simply removed the feature completely. If the feature was enabled prior to the change, users will still be able to see ads.
“Of course, good privacy requires strong security. We have more than 400 full-time engineers — the world’s foremost experts in security — working to protect your information. We always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email in Gmail, which means no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between your laptop, phone or tablet and Gmail’s servers — even if you’re using public WiFi,” writes Bram Bout, director for Google for Education.
Google has actually been under fire for mining student data and a lawsuit has been making its way through the legal system in the United States. Students are accusing Google of crossing a “creepy line” by using information obtained from such scans for advertising purposes.
Google’s email scanning practices overall have been in the spotlight for a while now as the company is being sued for collecting data in this manner. In fact, the Internet giant has just dodged a bullet as a judge did not allow plaintiffs that weren’t Gmail users to join a class action.
The company has recently updated its Terms of Service to make sure that it will never again be sued for such practices, adding the fact that user emails are scanned for advertising purposes.
Similar changes as the one that Google made for the Education will also be implemented to other services as well, including Business, Government and for legacy users of the free version. Updates will be provided as the rollout is completed.
Bout will join Jonathan Rochelle, director of product management for Docs and Drive, and Hank Thiele, chief technology officer for District 207, will be participating to a Hangouts on Air for the Google Education Google+ page.