Privacy and security, more than almost anything else, has become the focal point of internet usage. Consumers do not want their private information used in any way, and especially, not by websites and companies who are using it as a means of sales or web direction. For this reason, Google has been a sort of pariah for enterprise level internet users, many of whom are unwilling to use the Google system for fear that their private email conversations and information will be used or shared with others. However, this week Google announced that the longstanding practice would come to a grinding halt.
Google has, since its inception, scanned and digested the contents of email of personal users in order to direct individualized advertising their way within the Gmail system. The practice has led to a substantial number of concerns about Google and its attention to email privacy. Most single users don’t mind that much, since the bulk of their conversations are not of great concern. However, corporate level clients have been deeply concerned about the practice. While Google always assured users that it would not scan corporate emails, the concern was that any emails sent to personal addresses of corporate employees were then scan-able by Google for information. This led to a widespread rejection of the overall Google system by most corporate users. Users were allowed to opt out of the service, but the net result was a lack of trust.
In recent years, with the rise of cloud based services, Google has been trying to land more corporate clients. Their lack of market share in the cloud world, compared to companies like Microsoft and Amazon, has led to top-level concern about their reputation among corporate clients. The reality is that trust was lost with Google at a corporate level, and their cloud service business has suffered as a result.
The cloud division head, Diane Greene, made the announcement this week that Google would stop the practice of scanning emails and their contents. The statement comes as a play to regain corporate trust that had been lost. Diane Greene made it clear that there would be no further practice of this sort, and that companies could come on board with Google’s G Suite and move their data onto Google’s cloud without concern. The move is hoped to produce a shift in corporate clients away from Amazon’s hosting dominance and Microsoft’s productivity dominance.
The company will still provide ads based on search history, YouTube searches, and other activity while the user is signed into Gmail. But the concerns regarding email privacy have been answered. It remains to be seen whether the move will actually increase Google’s market share in the business cloud services tech, but for those who were wary about Google’s privacy practices, it is a sign of hope. Net privacy, and especially email privacy, will continue to be a sensitive topic, and the move shows that Google understands its client base, and is willing to change to grow its market presence.