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Google Halts Gmail Scanning for Education Apps Users 67

Posted by timothy
from the but-we-were-only-peeking dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."
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Google Halts Gmail Scanning for Education Apps Users

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  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:35AM (#46888429)

    Google will also soon stop scanning the accounts of Google Apps customers with Business, Government and legacy accounts for the free version.

    - http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/... [techcrunch.com]

    • by Barryke (772876)

      Indeed, so it seems. Media says so, but i did not see this news outed officially by Google yet.

      I read this at http://tweakers.net/nieuws/957... [tweakers.net]
      which cited http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/... [techcrunch.com]
      but that lacks source, i for one did not find the original Google statement regarding business anywhere.

      If true, i guess the gmail PGP they considered made it impossible to scan the emails anyway, so they might as well make a big deal out of it. First education ofcourse, it'll simplify that lawsuit and all. http://www.edwe [edweek.org]

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:50AM (#46888517)

    New Google Mission Statement: "Don't continue to be evil after we've been called out on it in the tech press."

    • New Google Mission Statement: "Don't continue to be evil after we've been called out on it in the tech press."

      More like "don't continue to be evil after being called out on it in court [wsj.com]".

      Seriously - how does the fact Google got sued over the practice not get mentioned here?

  • The summary should read

    Google will no longer scan the email messages of students [...] for advertising purposes

    . The Google blog post does not mention other types of scanning (neither to confirm or deny their existence, nor to announce that they will cease).

    • As an email administrator, all good administrators scan email. This is done for Spam filtering as well as things like Virus protection, archiving/indexing (Freedom of Information Act). Most of it is automated and humans are almost never involved in reading email. At this Macro level, I have but only one reservation, at any point humans can become involved. This includes Gmail's scanning for advertisements.

      The issue isn't the scanning, it is the abuse (potential) of humans inserting themselves into the proce

      • Yes, but what google is likely doing is scanning email for aggregate data. For example, I'm fairly certain Google and Facebook know before all of us who's going to win elections.

        • So does Nate Silver. But while he was the darling of the left a couple years ago, his current predictions have them steaming mad. ;)

      • by Spamalope (91802)

        The issue isn't the scanning, it is the abuse (potential) of humans inserting themselves into the process to data mine on SPECIFIC users, without any other controls in place. I don't care about my data being aggregated, I care about my data being mined to be used against me. Given enough data, all of us are vulnerable.

        Technology isn't the problem. It never was. The problem is humans, and always will be.

        How much are the emails of your competitor's best salesmen worth to you? What if they were scanned to forward only those between him and his customers? What if you got alerts when a new prospect emailed? There is so much profitable data in email if only you fully monetize it! (and resell it through a Business Intelligence '3rd party' so you can claim to be the victim when caught!)

        • by mysidia (191772)

          How much are the emails of your competitor's best salesmen worth to you?

          How do you know who your competitor's best salesman is? Why don't you just hire them with an offer they can't refuse?

        • If you actually tried to comprehend my point, I covered your case. I care about data being mined being used against me (best salesman's email) aggregating data will not poach your salesman, that would take human intervention. Google isn't selling the Salesman's Email (yet) .

    • by Spamalope (91802)

      The summary should read

      Google will no longer scan the email messages of students [...] for advertising purposes

      . The Google blog post does not mention other types of scanning (neither to confirm or deny their existence, nor to announce that they will cease).

      Facilitating scanning for any purpose by '3rd parties' is still on the table too.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not wiretapping because you give consent to the scanning when you sign up for their FREE email account.

    If you want privacy, get an email service that features it. Don't expect privacy when you willfully opt-in.

    • Kindergarten through high school students typically aren't old enough to give legal consent.

      I'm quite sure that this decision came not out of Google's corporate heart, but out of its legal immune system.

      • No, but their parents are. The parental authorization for Google Apps for Education comes home with all the rest of the paperwork at the beginning of the school year here.
        • In loco parentis. The school picks the provider based upon whatever guidelines they are required to adhere to. Attending the school requires using the school's services, whomever provides them. It's likely that the parents don't even know the kids have a school email account, never mind who hosts the service.
          • by Virtucon (127420)

            Of course we all know there's incentives provided to school districts and Google of course gets more subscribers, more accounts and more hooks into the kids. I doubt 90% of the parents even know what apps or access their kids have while at school. I do because my kids have been hacking the firewalls for years so I routinely get a "your son/daughter has been violating school policy.... blah blah blah" I retort "fix your insecure shit, they're providing vulnerability testing services to you for free!"

          • It's likely that the parents don't even know the kids have a school email account, never mind who hosts the service.

            You say that in response to me pointing out my local schools send and authorization form to parents...? I doubt there's a school anywhere that's stupid enough to give kids an email address without parental permission and signing of a waiver. All it takes is one precious snowflake unexpectedly getting porn spam and the school is in hot water. In loco parentis doesn't mean schools can do whatever they want.

    • Persons who don't have a gmail account, but send an email to a gmail account never consented to have their email scanned. The wiretapping laws in some states require the consent of both parties.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      It's not wiretapping because you give consent to the scanning when you sign up for their FREE email account.

      Works for one-party consent, but two-party, not so much.

      Which was the basis of several lawsuits - basically if you're a sender, who doesn't agree to Google's ToS, are still bound by them by sending an email to a Google Mail user.

      We used to joke about "Reading this comment means you pay me $10", but it's basically the same thing - suddenly doing something "normal" (like sending an email) can bind you l

      • by hendrips (2722525)

        Not just that, but Gmail educational accounts usually end in @Name_Of_Institution. So, even if you could make the dubious argument that the sender is responsible for knowing Gmail's terms if they want to send email to a Gmail recipient, there's no way to know that the recipient uses Gmail.

  • How about allowing schools to use the old HTTP for searches instead of enforcing the HTTPS. All it does is bring an added expense into the district for me to filter the SSL searches to keep kids from accessing images that they shouldn't. By forcing all searches through SSL, filters can no longer be applied to the encrypted data without using some form of DPI-SSL. We don't host our own DNS, so adding nossl to the DNS CNAME won't work. Thanks Google for making it more expensive to be CIPA compliant.
  • Oh noes! A computer program is going to scan my email for keywords and show me relevant ads??

    The horror.

  • Bullshit, it's called getting the legal screws applied to your nuts [thinkprogress.org], not some change of heart concerning privacy by Google. They're facing multiple lawsuits and they're making concessions that they know they'll have to implement anyway. I'm hoping Judge Koh throws the book at these hypocrites.

  • Moved three domains already over to Outlook.com.

  • When you enable spam filtering in Google, the spam filter "reads all your email" in exactly the same way the "invasive" practice from this lawsuit does. It just does it to serve Google and not the user. You have no privacy on the Internet unless you encrypt your traffic, and not even then if the NSA has their way. Until people get that, they should assume that people are "reading" their messages.

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