Today Google announced that it will no longer scan Gmail or use mined data from its Apps for Education in targeted advertising. This decision comes after the policy was recently challenged in a 2013 California court case. Students and other users claimed the email scanning policy violated wiretap laws.
Bram Bout, Google’s Education Sales Director, said that the company will no longer scan Gmail in Apps for Education or collect the data for targeted advertising. This is an excellent move for Google and increases the company’s transparency.
Although Google has noted that its scanning is completely automated, critics still insist that user profile data might be attractive to the government and other malicious groups pending security breaches.
Beyond the critics, it is useful to consider why Google is making this move. Are users concerned about privacy or trust? The SXSW conference noted that privacy will be a major trend this year
Millennials are very open in sharing and communicating with trusted brands. A recent survey by the USC Annenberg Center of Digital Future and Bovitz Inc. suggests that Millennials are completely confused about the concept of privacy. 70% reported that no one should have access to their online data. However, 56% are willing to share their data for reimbursement.
I suspect that Google wants to avoid the “big data” label and distance itself from other organizations (i.e., the NSA) that have been secretly collecting data. It’s no longer a matter of collecting data, but a mater of trust. Do you trust Google?