January 20, 2019

Gmail Third-Party App Developers Allowed to Scan Your Emails by Google

03 July 2018, 07:56 | Cameron Gross

App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users

In a report from The Wall Street Journal (via Business Insider), it seems that third-party developers are still scanning the emails of Gmail users, which apparently have been allowed by Google themselves. Companies may reveal additional details about how data is processed but most users don't read privacy policies, terms of service, and other legal documents prior to allowing access to their data or installing applications.

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

The companies that had spokespeople quoted in the article claim that all their employees must adhere to strict guidelines when checking user data, and while there are no signs of misuse amongst other developers, the potential is certainly there.

Gmail has almost 1.4 billion users globally - more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.

Not that long ago, Google promised its users that it will stop using bots to search for potential information, that could aid advertising, within their emails.

People most susceptible to email skimming are those who have subscribed to various online services like product price comparison websites and automated travel planning websites.

"Email data collectors use software to scan millions of messages a day, looking for clues about consumers that they can sell to marketers, hedge funds and other businesses", the report added, saying data miners generally have access to other email services besides Gmail.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that access is not restricted to computers accessing the data but that human employees may and do read emails as well.

Google's mail service has always been criticized for the invasive practices of the company, which runs nearly entirely on employing all the data it collects on users to attract advertisers and target their wares to the people most likely to buy them. He says engineers at eDataSource occasionally reviewed emails when building and improving software algorithms.

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret". "It's kind of reality". But thinking developers weren't going through users' emails was simply naive. All the top tech companies are under pressure in the United States and in Europe to do more to protect user privacy and to be more transparent about any parties with access to people's data.

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