After being under fire for scanning student Gmail accounts in order to gather ad targeting information, Google has now said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that it will no longer be doing so. Even though the company does not serve ads in its Google Apps for Education, it was previously accused of scanning over 30 million student accounts in order to better target ads to them elsewhere.
Google's data scraping is the main focus of Microsoft's smear campaign against the company and has spawned attacks on the search giant in the form of national full-page print ads and the Scroogled project. Google has had to face a lawsuit recently regarding its data mining practices based on a Microsoft backed anti-privacy bill, in which it was heavily scrutinized for its student Gmail scanning.
Director of Google for Education, Bram Bout, told The WSJ that Google will no longer scrape Gmail in Apps for Education, and will not collect or make use of said data for advertising purposes. The report also claims that Bout said Google will be shutting down similar data mining practices on apps services for businesses and government.
It is hard to say whether or not pressure from Microsoft has directly motivated changes at Google, but the $8 billion potential student software market likely did. While Microsoft recently launched the "Bing in the Classroom" program to offer ad-free search to students, it has also had its fair share of privacy issues after admitting to spying on a blogger's Hotmail account.