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Google takes drastic measures to combat Gmail spam: What it means for businesses & consumers
Wed, 4th Oct 2023

In a move that signals a significant shift in the email landscape, Google has announced stringent new measures aimed at reducing spam in Gmail, its two-decade-old email service. The tech giant revealed that starting in 2024, bulk email senders—those who send more than 5,000 messages to Gmail addresses in a single day—will be subject to rigorous authentication processes. Additionally, these senders must offer recipients the option to unsubscribe with a single click. The changes are set to affect a broad spectrum of businesses, including many smaller startups.

Neil Kumaran, Group Product Manager for Gmail Security & Trust, stated that the new requirements are designed to make Gmail inboxes "safer and more spam-free." The company's AI-powered defences already block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails daily, but as threats evolve, so must Google's countermeasures. The focus is on email validation, ensuring that senders are who they claim to be. Last year, Google began requiring some form of authentication for emails sent to Gmail addresses, resulting in a 75% drop in unauthenticated messages.

The new guidelines stipulate three key requirements for bulk senders:

Authenticate their email: Senders must strongly authenticate their emails following well-established best practices.

Enable easy unsubscription: Gmail recipients should be able to unsubscribe from commercial emails with a single click, and unsubscription requests must be processed within two days.

Ensure they're sending wanted email: A clear spam rate threshold will be enforced to ensure Gmail recipients aren't bombarded with unwanted messages.

These changes are not just a Google initiative. Industry partners, including Yahoo, are also pushing for these high-impact changes to become the new industry standard. Marcel Becker, Sr. Dir. Product at Yahoo, emphasised the need for collective action in the "interconnected world of email."

While many senders already meet most of these requirements, Google is providing clear guidance before the enforcement begins in February 2024. The move is seen as a tune-up for the email world, requiring constant collaboration and vigilance from the entire email community.

The announcement has been met with mixed reactions. While some see it as a necessary step for enhancing email security, others question its impact on email marketing strategies. The one-click unsubscribe requirement, in particular, has raised eyebrows, with some wondering how it will affect customer preference centres.

As email remains a crucial part of daily communication for both businesses and individuals, these changes underscore the need for a more secure, user-friendly, and spam-free email experience.