Google’s Terms of Service have been updated, and now clearly explains that your Gmail email is scanned automatically, by software. This is not new behavior: automatic scanning has always been a part of Gmail, as it is with most free email services.
The important addition to the Terms of Service is this:
“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.”
A Google spokesman said this change will give users more clarity over what the company does with your emails. This is in line with what many privacy advocates want to see from companies – more transparency and clarity over what happens to our data when we sign up to a service.
It’s important to make clear, also, that no person is reading your Gmail for Google. Scanning is automated, and works by picking up keywords so Google can serve better targeted ads, search results and more. It may make some people uncomfortable, but as we wrote last year, the price we pay for a free service is our data.