Google’s infinite access to information can be a double-edged sword. To enhance their advertising network, Google scans the inboxes of Gmail users to deliver the most relevant ads. While this helps advertisers, the plaintiffs in a Northern California District Court argued that this practice violates privacy laws, specifically the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. What fueled the plaintiffs’ case most was the fact that Google was scanning emails from non-Gmail users.
Instead of viciously fighting the lawsuit, Google decided to settle the lawsuit and subtly change the dynamic of this practice. Now, instead of scanning users’ emails in the delivery process, they’re now scanning the emails once they’re in the users’ inbox. Google will additionally compensate the plaintiffs’ legal fees and pay $2,000 to each of the representatives in the suit. While this settlement may be hailed as a victory for Google, it’s still unclear whether or not this will have a noticeable impact for advertisers.