Google has updated its terms of service to reflect its email scanning practices that are carried out to provide users with customized search results and tailored advertising, as Reuters first spotted.
In the latest version of its terms of service, Google adds a paragraph explaining that email scanning is done automatically when the content is being delivered and when it finally sits within its servers:
Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
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A Google spokesperson tells TNW that the rationale behind the update is to make it clearer for users: “We want our policies to be simple and easy for users to understand. These changes will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we’ve received over the last few months.”
Google was facing a class action lawsuit arguing that Gmail’s feature for scanning emails to target ads goes against wiretap laws — though a US judge denied the status of a class action suit last month, saying that the issue of consent among parties was too different. Google has argued that all Gmail users have signed the terms of service and therefore already agreed to have their emails read. Making this even clearer in its updated terms of service is likely a pre-emptive move to help it hedge against any similar issues that may arise in the future.
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