Google amends terms to clarify that data is analyzed for ads

The company seeks to add greater clarity around its scanning of data such as email content

In an attempt at clarity, Google has amended its terms of service to say that it analyzes private data, including emails, for purposes including the delivery of ads and customized search results.

The changes to its terms of service, announced this week, come as Internet users continue to grapple with how and why companies handle their data.

In one recent high-profile example, Microsoft faced a backlash following reports that it had actually read someone's Hotmail emails, under a policy that has since been changed.

For Google, the issue concerns its automated scanning of emails and other data. "Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you with personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection," a new statement in the terms reads. The analysis occurs, Google said, as content is sent, received and stored.

The changes were made for clarity purposes, based on feedback the company received over the last few months, said Google spokesman Matt Kallman . "We want our policies to be simple and easy for users to understand," he said in a statement.

That feedback hasn't all been nice. A recent class-action lawsuit filed against Google accused the company of wiretapping in the way it scanned Gmail messages. A major driver of the suit was the plaintiffs' claim that Google's terms were unclear in describing how the company scans Gmail content to deliver ads. A federal judge last month refused to grant the case class-action status.

However, although Google revised its terms and privacy policy in 2012, a reasonable Gmail user who read the privacy policy "would not necessarily have understood that her emails were being intercepted to create user profiles or to provide targeted advertisements," U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh wrote in a previous ruling in that case.

Google this week also made some modifications to its privacy policy. Those changes do not mention automated analysis, but do provide added explanation around specific terms and issues such as Web cookie tracking and device-specific information Google might collect.

The company did not formally announce the tweaks to its policies. Instead, a link at the bottom of Google's home page currently reads, "Updated Privacy and Terms." The new terms of service are set to go into effect April 14.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social mediaprivacyinternetGooglesearch enginessocial networkingdata protectionMailonline safetyInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?