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Google stops scanning student Gmail accounts following privacy concerns

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Just days after Microsoft launched a special ad-free version of Bing for schools, search rival Google is making some ad changes targeted at classrooms. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Google says it has stopped scanning student Gmail accounts for advertising purposes. The data-mining practice was central to a Microsoft-backed privacy bill that has seen Google face a lawsuit in a US court case. While Google Apps for Education is free from ads, the search giant still scanned more than 30 million accounts so that it could potentially target ads to students on other Google properties.

While the practice is being killed off for education accounts, Google is also reportedly planning to disable email scanning on its Google Apps services for businesses and government too. Google’s email scanning is the primary catalyst for Microsoft’s Scroogled attacks. Microsoft, which competes with its service, created its own Gmail Man spoof ad alongside full-age ads in national newspapers to highlight Google’s practices. While the Scroogled campaign has mixed reviews, it has served as a method to increase pressure on Google to alter its data-mining. Microsoft faced its own privacy pressure recently after the company was caught snooping on a blogger’s Hotmail account, a move that forced the software maker to rethink its own internal policies.