The smart features of Gmail — such as Smart Compose and Smart Reply to help speed up email composition — are certainly handy, but they come at a price. Privacy.
As is often the case with Google products, sharing personal information with the company is par for the course. While it could be argued that some features simply could not function properly, or be personalized correctly, without such data-sharing, not everyone is happy with giving up their privacy in this way. Now Google has introduced an option that gives users greater control.
In a blog post in which it says it is striving “to protect your privacy”, Google explains that it is introducing a new setting for Smart features. While Google says that the ability to turn the likes of tabbed inbox, Smart Compose and Smart Reply in Gmail on and off is not new across the board, it does go on to explain a new all-or-nothing approach to Smart features:
What’s new is a clearer choice over the data processing that makes them possible. This new setting is designed to reduce the work of understanding and managing that process, in view of what we’ve learned from user experience research and regulators’ emphasis on comprehensible, actionable user choices over data.
Google does not concede that the personal data that is shared when Smart features are enabled constitutes a privacy violation. The company does say, however: “We’ll continue evolving controls in our products to align with these trends. Because smart features rely on your data to save you time and provide a more helpful experience, we want you to use them because you find value in using them, not because they’re simply there”.
In the coming days and weeks, you should see a popup in your Gmail inbox asking if you would like to opt out of having your data used to power smart features across a range of Google products. If you change your mind, you can always reverse the setting.