Microsoft has already introduced multiple education-based initiatives that are aimed at making it easier for schools to afford devices and to use services like Bing. However, Google hasn’t made the same progress and the company has been criticized for its Gmail scanning practices that include students.
In 2006, Google Apps for Education–a service now used by 30 million students and teachers–was released and although ads were not placed within Gmail for those accounts, Google still collected data from them. By collecting the data, Google could potentially use it to target ads through campaigns on other services.
Some Gmail users, including students, had sued Google in California on the grounds that its scanning practices violated wiretap laws. Although some of those claims were thrown out, during the litigation Google made it clear that it does scan emails sent and received by its Google Apps for Education users.
Following that clarification in September 2013, users have called for Google to stop scanning emails and to treat students differently. Now, the company has listened and will now longer be scanning Gmail for those users.
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That shift is part of a larger move from Google that will eventually remove Gmail scanning from Apps for businesses.
Given the initiatives that Microsoft and other companies have become involved in, it is clear that educators and students do not feel that advertising should ever be associated with educational tools. As such, Microsoft’s Bing for Schools doesn’t include ads.
Google is a bit more hesitant to reign in its advertising and scanning practices since that is where a large portion of its revenue comes from, but in this situation, too many people were requesting the same thing for Google to ignore them.
Previously, Google had made it clear that no matter who you are, your data is being scanned by robots rather than humans. Once that data is recorded, targeted ads across Google’s services can be provided. Following the Snowden revelations and the growth in the number of privacy-minded individuals, a large number of Gmail users have requested that scanning be halted.
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Summary: Google will no longer scan Gmail emails for Google Apps for Education users. Ads were never included in Gmail for students but prior to this change, Google had collected data from emails being sent and received.
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