Google halts scanning of Apps for Education accounts

The search giant says it will no longer collect student data to use for advertising purposes.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Google says it is no longer mining the accounts of Google Apps for Education users for advertising data.

Revealing the new policy in a blog post Tuesday, Bram Bout, director of Google for Education, also said that Google has removed a toggle to enable and disable ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. Removing the toggle means that ads in the Apps for Education suite are now automatically turned off, and administrators cannot turn them back on.

Google Apps for Education provides the usual lineup of apps for email, calendar, and document creation but is geared toward students and teachers.

The new non-scanning policy comes in the wake of a lawsuit against Google filed last year by Gmail users in California, according to The Wall Street Journal. The suit alleged that scanning email for advertising purposes violated California's wiretap laws. A Google spokeswoman confirmed to Education Week recently that the company did scan and index emails in the Apps for Education suite to use for various purposes, including advertising.

Similar policy changes are due to roll out to other variants of Google Apps, including the Business and Government editions as well as the free version, Bout added. Bout said that he and other Google staffers will host a Hangout on Air on the Google for Education G+ page at 9:00 am PT Thursday to discuss the latest changes.