Google's system of scanning the email content of its Gmail users, in order to generate targeted ads, has been controversial ever since the company launched the service just over 10 years ago. On Monday, Google added a paragraph in its Terms of Service that attempts to better explain how its software scans content from its users.
The new TOS document puts the new paragraph in the "Your Content in our Services" section. It states:
Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
CNET reports that, according to a statement from a Google spokesperson, "Today's changes will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we've received over the last few months." However, that likely won't stop the complaints of many privacy advocates, who believe Google's Gmail scanning polices amount to illegal wiretapping of their users. Google's defense, at least so far, has been that Gmail users have to accept those kinds of features when they sign up to use the service.
Microsoft has attacked Gmail on a number of occasions, including a rather funny video released a few years ago called "Gmail Man" that parodies how a "real" Gmail mailman might go through a person's letters.