Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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After complaints from schools and privacy advocates, Google email scanning has stopped. Google announced last Wednesday that it is discontinuing the practice. Student emails will no longer be scanned. Google email scanning is not the only privacy violation in question. Other educators are pushing for changes from other producers of educational software.
Google Email Scanning with Apps for Education
Google email scanning has been going on for years. Google scans emails to gather data that it can use for targeted ad campaigns. But because of the court case that was filed last year, Google email scanning has come under heavy criticism. The company decided to stop doing it to avoid further issues.
The California court case over Google email scanning forced the issue of whether Google email scanning is a violation of the laws against wiretapping. Google email scanning was admitted. This time, the admission was specific to the company’s targeting of students. Emails both sent and received by students using Apps for Education were scanned. Google made concessions after the accusations that Google email scanning was against the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Google for Education’s director Bram Bout said Google email scanning will stop where Apps for Education users are concerned. He further stated that no data would be collected or used for advertising. The stop on Google email scanning will be extended to users of the company’s businesses and government apps as well, Bout said. Meantime, users who want to maintain privacy while using Google service will have to find other ways.
Apps for Education is not a new offering from Google that has become very popular. Many students and education professionals use it because it gives them one-stop email, data storage, documents and a calendar. It is a great tool for school, but Google email scanning is not something that its users counted on.
Since it was released in 2006, Google Apps for Education has been sustaining itself through data mining. The app itself did not throw ads to its users. But the data it collected through scanning emails was open for use to send targeted ads to other Internet users. The company claims that Google email scanning on the app was never used in this way.
More Privacy Demanded from Educational Software Makers
In the space of two weeks, another demand was made of InBloom. InBloom receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The nonprofit organization faced criticism over the way it has been collecting, storing and handling student data. InBloom has announced that it is closing its doors.
The past 10 months has brought out many serious complaints over data privacy concerns. And educators have joined the fight against companies and organizations that seek to take advantage of user data.