March 27, 2017

Privacy: Google is No Longer Mining Student Gmail (Official Statement)

Note: This change in policy comes as no real surprise. The scanning of student Gmail accounts came out in a court filing early in 2014. Recently, Google also made changes to clarify how all Gmail is scanned.

To be clear, Google never displayed ads with Apps for Education Gmail but was still scanning/mining the data for “advertising purposes”.

Addition background at the bottom of this post.

From Today’s Google Announcement (via Enterprise Blog):

Today, we’re taking additional steps to enhance the educational experience for Apps for Education customers:

  • We’ve permanently removed the “enable/disable” toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.
  • We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.

Users who have chosen to show AdSense ads on their Google Sites will still have the ability to display those existing ads on their websites. However, it will no longer be possible to edit or add new AdSense ads to existing sites or to new pages.

Read the Complete Blog Post

From the Wall St. Journal

Students and other Gmail users sued Google last year in California, claiming the email scanning violated wiretap laws.

During the litigation, Google said that it scanned emails sent and received by students who attend schools that use Apps for Education. Education Week magazine reportedthat such activity may violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a law that protects educational records.

[Clip]

Google is making similar changes to its Apps services for businesses and government users, [Bram] Bout [Director, Google] Apps for Education] said.

Read the Complete Article

Additional Resources/Background

Contrary to the company’s earlier public statements, Google representatives acknowledged in a September motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ request for class certification that the company’s consumer-privacy policy applies to Apps for Education users. Thus, Google argues, it has students’ (and other Apps for Education users’) consent to scan and process their emails.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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