Gmail To Stop Scanning For Targeted Advertising
Unless you have been holding out in an ice cave, you already know that I favor using Google for email. My reasons in favor include:
- Gmail for consumers is free
- G-Suite for Business is low-priced
- Huge storage allotment
- The best anti-malware scanning available
- Good anti-spam
- The best email search engine
- Works natively with Android, iOS, macOS email apps
- Works natively with any internet-connected device with a web browser
With all that going for Google mail, it has always had one distressing aspect–Gmail (for consumers) is scanned by Google for keywords to assist in targeted advertising. G-Suite (for business) is not scanned.
Google does, and will continue to scan both Gmail and G-Suite for keywords to assist with spam, phishing, and malware detection.
The good news, announced on the Google Blog June 23, 2017, is that Gmail will soon follow G-Suite with the elimination of scanning for targeted ads. Now, don't get to thinking that Google is giving up targeted advertising. That is their cash cow. They just won't be using your email as a data source. They will be using other avenues, such as YouTube, searches, etc.
If you were thinking that you would be better off with another email provider because of this scanning issue, fuggedaboutit. Unless you have opted for a security-conscious email service such as Proton Mail, your email provider is already performing keyword scans on you.
This doesn't mean the situation is hopeless. You can prevent your email from being scanned by using email encryption. There are fundamentally three options:
- PGP/GPG. This is the original, old-school solution. Using a Public Key/Private Key encryption scheme, anyone two people who use PGP/GPG can encrypt email (using the recipient's Public Key) so that only the intended recipient is able to decrypt it (using their Private Key). This system is highly secure, and is free with GPG. However, there aren't good Android or iOS apps that work with it, and installing and configuring is best left to someone experienced with security.
- S/MIME. Uses a certificate system, much like secure web servers. One can purchase a certificate for an individual, or an entire organization. Cost may be as low as $9/year/account. Any number of people who use S/MIME can encrypt email so that only the intended recipient(s) are able to decrypt it. The native Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps all play nice with S/MIME. The only downsides are cost (albeit low) and installation and configuration is best left to someone experienced with security.
- Virtru. This is the new kid on the block, and so far, I'm loving it. Virtru works with Gmail, G-Suite, and Outlook. One of the biggest advantages is that only the sender needs to have Virtru. If the recipient does not have a Virtru, they can still read the email, and reply with an encrypted message. All of this comes with a price–$60/year/account or $90 with e-discovery.
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