Google announced on Wednesday that it will no longer scan student Gmail accounts for advertising data, The Wall Street Journal reports. The search giant offers a version of its email service currently used by more than 30 million students and school employees, along with free calendar, cloud storage, and document creator apps.
The decision follows a court case covering the practice of scanning emails, though Google notes that it never placed ads inside its education apps. Of course, that didn’t stop the company from analyzing the data is scanned from emails and using it to target those users with ads anywhere else on the Internet.
Gmail has always scanned user emails and served up relevant ads right alongside your inbox, though when this system was first introduced it attracted plenty of criticism over privacy violations. The company continues to scan and automatically analyzes regular emails, but following the same practice with its education apps reportedly violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Google’s decision to mine your personal information to sell ads may make you uncomfortable, but that’s the price we pay for free services. Facebook, Twitter and Amazon all do the same thing in one way or another, though Google’s online empire may give it access to more user data than any other company. At least now students and teachers will be free from the search giant’s all-seeing eye.