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On July 23, Google promised with great fanfare that it would stop scanning consumers’ Gmail messages to serve targeted, contextually aware ads.

The announcement—which put Gmail in line with competing services and Google’s paid e-mail for government, business, and education sectors—was published widely, from tech blogs to the mainstream media. “Free consumer Gmail users,” Google said, “can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate.”
However, court documents suggest that this could be temporary.

A month after Google’s announcement, the company quietly agreed (PDF) to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that the targeted-advertising scanning was illegal wiretapping.

That deal, in which a federal judge gave “preliminarily approval” (PDF) to on Thursday, binds Google for just three years.
According to footnote 3 in the settlement:
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