Google lets 3rd-party app developers read your emails

Noel Cummings
July 4, 2018

The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave developers outside the company access to inboxes.

The report said, "Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers - and, in some cases, employees - to read their users' emails".

Normally, computers scan and analyse over 100 million emails per day, but Google allows third-party software to electronically scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users.

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Google said that it provides data to outside developers who have been vetted and who have been granted permission by users to access their email.

To recall, Google back in 2017, said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads.

Return Path posted a response to the report on its website, saying it had worked with the reporter on the story and felt they were "extremely and somewhat carelessly selective" in what information the reporter chose to include.

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The revelation could not have come at a worse time as, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, software companies are taking extra steps to protect data privacy of its users.

One developer, Return Path, a marketing company that offers free email organization tools, let its workers read about 8,000 user emails two years ago to help develop the company's software.

It said Facebook for years let outside developers have access but claimed the practice was stopped by 2015. Email managing firms Return Path and Edison Software are few of the trusted companies. Something else that's unclear is whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system. You did that so that you could take advantage of a particular type of app built around email, like a service that tells you when prices for specific products goes down. As part of the new updates, Google introduced a new search functionality that enables users to find settings and other info they might be looking for in their account, like how to change the password. Google itself is very strict about giving employees access to emails and limits it to situations where a security issue or bug requires it, or when users give Google explicit permission to do so according to the Wall Street Journal.

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