Tech & Work

Google hopes to lure business customers by ending Gmail scanning to target ads

Google announced plans to end its practice of personalizing ads to users based on their email contents for both consumer and enterprise users. It also recently removed medical records from searches.

Google will stop scanning the contents of consumer Gmail accounts for ad targeting purposes later this year, as it already has for G Suite enterprise users, the company announced on Friday.

"This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products," Diane Greene, senior vice president for Google Cloud, wrote in a blog post. "Ads shown are based on users' settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free."

The G Suite continues to gain traction among enterprise users, Greene noted in the post, with its usage more than doubling in the past year alone among large business customers. More than 3 million companies pay to use the G Suite today, according to Greene. This move is likely another way for the company to demonstrate that they offer strong privacy options both in and out of the enterprise.

On both the enterprise and consumer side, Gmail has become "the world's preeminent email provider," Greene wrote, with more than 1.2 billion total users across both services. Along with its security protections and Smart Reply features, forthcoming add-ons will soon allow for payments and invoicing directly within Gmail, the post noted.

SEE: 6 tips to protect your G Suite account from phishing scams

Users can control the information they share with Google at myaccount.google.com.

Removing medical records from searches

In other Google privacy news, the search giant quietly started removing personal medical records from its search results, as noted by Bloomberg last week.

Google added a line to its removal policy page under "information we may remove," that reads "Confidential, personal medical records of private people." Other information on this lists includes US Social Security numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers. The company only pulls such information when it gets specific requests from individuals, a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Personal health records are sometimes published online without the patient's consent, Bloomberg noted. For example, in December 2016, a lab in India accidentally uploaded the records of over 43,000 patients that contained sensitive information, including names and blood tests for HIV, and those records were indexed in Google's search results, according to Bloomberg.

Google also recently added fact-check tags to search results to help users determine which news stories are from trusted sources.

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Image: iStockphoto/ymgerman

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Friday, Google announced that it will stop scanning the contents of consumer Gmail accounts to target ads later this year.

2. The search giant does not scan the emails of G Suite Gmail users or show them ads, the company noted.

3. Google also recently started removing personal medical records from its search results.

Also see

About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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