Google will no longer scan, sell ads in Apps for Education

Google says a majority of its email traffic is now encrypted. AP

Google will no longer try to sell ads based on personal information collected about students using its suite of products tailored for schools.

The search engine announced changes that will revise some of the policies governing its "Apps for Education" products on Wednesday. More than 30 million students, teachers and administrators use the service, which includes GoogleDocs, Calendar and Google Drive.

In response to a pending lawsuit between the search giant and students in California, a Google representative told Education Week that the company scanned and indexed emails from all Apps for Education users. Although it wouldn't actually display the ads in the apps, the scanning gave the company a better idea about what kinds of ads to show users elsewhere, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In filing the suit against Google, students claimed that the scanning had violated state and federal laws. Some education experts say that the scanning had violated Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), according to Education Week.

In a blog post, Google assured educational users that it will no longer scan texts of Gmails sent through Apps for Education for clues about students' interests.

"Earning and keeping [users'] trust drives our business forward. We know that trust is earned through protecting their privacy and providing the best security measures," Bram Bout, director of Google for Education, wrote.

Google also stated that it will be removing an option that allowed school administrators to show Gmail ads when students were using Apps for Education. The company had been automatically blocking the ads, unless administrator changed the controls.

Google also said that it is in the process of making similar changes for all Google Apps customers, including business, government and the free version.

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