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Google make ads relevant by “learning” on Gmail – Concerns for privacy?

Tired of irrelevant, unnecessary and generally annoying advertisements appearing while you check your emails in Gmail? Well, over the next few days Google will begin trying out a new intelligent ad system which “reads” from your emails, learning from your messaging habits and interests to generate useful ad content, special offers and deals local to the individual Gmail-er.

The plan is currently in effect, starting yesterday on a small scale, and Google plan to take this worldwide within a short space of time. Gmail users will receive a prompt informing them of the change, which is made without a choice, but the possibility to opt out of the new “personalised” ads will be available in the account settings.

It’s likely many people will indeed choose to opt out for concern of privacy. However, Google do claim the ads will be generated from an automated system and no human eyes will be privy to your personal emails. Google also say no third-party advertiser will receive private information.

The first step in Google’s “get smart” email service kicked off in mid-2010 when it introduced a “Priority Inbox”, which categorizes emails by learning whose messages you’re reading and making these messages a priority in the Gmail inbox (of course).

A tidy up of the spam-ish ad content to the Gmail service is more than welcomed, but with a lot of important information like address and bank details being accessible in our emails it’s worth being a little bit concerned about where in fact all this “learned” information will be stored and will it really be maintained safely and privately?

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