Google on Monday updated its terms of service informing users that the company's automated systems analyze their content (including e-mails) to create targeted ads. The analysis is done when the content is sent, received, and stored, the company says. The guidelines came into effect yesterday.
"The changes will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we've received over the last few months", Google spokesperson Matt Kallman told Reuters. "We want our policies to be simple and easy to understand."
Although privacy advocates say that the practice of scanning e-mails in users' Gmail accounts is illegal, the company argues that users implicitly consented to its activity, recognizing it as part of the email delivery process.
Google has been seeking new ways to extract user information in order to boost its online advertisement revenue. In the process, the company has often been accused of violating user privacy. There are several privacy related lawsuits pending against the company.
Last month, a US judge refused to combine several lawsuits that accused Google of violating user privacy into a single class action. On the other hand, another US judge termed the company’s policies “vague at best, and misleading, at worst.”