Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users


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. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google does little to police developers that gain access to inboxes by offering email-based services such as price comparisons or other tools.

Google is allowing app developers to sift through your Gmail account.

The report said a former officer for eDataSource Inc. said that having employees read someone else's emails is "common practice" for data collectors. 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.

Although Return Path declined to comment on details of the incident, it did say it sometimes lets employees see emails when fixing problems with its algorithms.

People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given external developers permission to read their messages.

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.

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Giving developers access to your data might part of the terms of service - whether that's for tech giants like Google or Facebook, or 20-person startups - but people often don't realize just exactly they're agreeing to. It may do some internal testing to make sure of this, as well.

Not only are emails scanned by automated systems but the employees of these companies are said to collectively read millions of emails, according to executives quoted in the report.

Google indicated that the practice was not against its policies.

Privacy matters Google may have promised to stop scanning the inboxes of Gmail users for ad-targeting purposes past year, but it still lets third-party app developers read your private messages.

Companies that spoke to The Journal confirmed that the practice was specified in their user agreements and said they had implemented strict rules for employees regarding the handling of email.