Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

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

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

Ostensibly, Google only allows vetted third-party developers to request such permissions, and the intention of these companies is to use this information for targeted shopping suggestions and advertising, but the concern remains over how closely these companies are monitored once they've been granted access. (Gmail has more than 1 billion monthly active users.) In some cases, developers' employees had access to thousands of Gmail users' emails. The company's CEO found that "heartbreaking", but that's how businesses make money from a free service.

The three groups are apps that allow for "Signing in with Google", "Third-party apps with account access", and "Google apps".

One could say that users are responsible for granting access to their data.

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Both companies told the WSJ that the practice is covered under their user agreements, and that its employees have strict rules about what they can and can't do with the emails they read.

The other side of the medal is that developers sometimes request permissions that they don't need explicitly and that it is often hard for users to determine whether the request makes sense. The Internet giant recently rolled out new features for Android users to make it easier for them to navigate their Gmail accounts and review security and privacy options.

Letting employees read user emails has become "common practice" for companies that collect this type of data, says Thede Loder, the former chief technology officer at eDataSource Inc., a rival to Return Path. Then, working on machines that prevented them from downloading information to other devices, they read the personal email messages of hundreds of users-with user information already redacted-along with the system's suggested replies, manually indicating whether each made sense. But thinking developers weren't going through users' emails was simply naive.

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Why would an app developer allow humans to read your emails? It may do some internal testing to make sure of this, as well.

It's obvious what Google apps are - things like Chrome and Drive.

However it isn't as nefarious as you might think as these scans were conducted using apps that users would have had to give permission to.

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Now You: Do you permit third-party apps access to important data?

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