Google promises to stop scanning your inbox to serve up ads

Since it arrived on the scene in 2004 with a whopping 1GB of free storage space for users, Gmail has been funded by targeted advertising linked to the content of your emails, but that's going to change later this year.

"Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization" at some unspecified point in the next few months, Google announced in a blog post, although you will still see adverts in your inbox - they'll just be generated using all the data the company has on you from other sources instead.

So why the change? Ostensibly it's to bring the consumer version of Gmail into line with the G Suite version of Gmail that Google offers to businesses: the paid-for option has never had inbox scanning and now the free option will follow suit.

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In reality, Google probably now has enough data on its users from all its other apps and services that the contents of their inboxes just aren't that important or relevant any more. The move brings Gmail more into line with Google's other apps as far as advertising policy goes as well.

In recent years Google has made a concerted effort to make its privacy policy more consistent across its sprawling digital empire and to give users tools to control how their data is collected and used: you can get at your own settings from your Google account page.

The makers of Gmail didn't miss an opportunity to tout the security protection and smart shortcut features that they offer to the 1.2 billion people on the planet with a registered address on the service. Meanwhile 3 million businesses have signed up to use G Suite, Google says.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.