Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

Google lets third-party developers read users’ private Gmail messages

Google lets third-party developers read users’ private Gmail messages

You likely gave the "Signing in with Google" apps permission to access such data because you wanted to use your Google login to sign into your accounts with them instead of having to create separate user accounts and passwords. This company collects data for marketers through this scanning. 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. The WSJ also says that while computers do most of this work, human employees read about 8,000 emails to help train the software. The company recently rolled out new features for Gmail in a bid to make it easier for users to navigate their account and review security and privacy options.

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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. In most cases, the people who signed up for the special price-comparison deals and other programs agreed to provide access to their inboxes as part of the opt-in process.

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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. It may do some internal testing to make sure of this, as well. Last year, the company promised to stop reading the emails of Gmail users in this manner but, as a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests, the company is still allowing third-party developers full access to your emails. An executive at another company said employees' reading of emails had become "common practice". Google told The Verge, which reported on the story of the Wall Street Journal, that all companies are vetted before they are allowed to request user data.

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It's interesting to note that, judging from The Journal's story, very little indicates that Google is doing anything different from Microsoft or other top email providers. They defended this action by saying, "The practice is specified in their user agreements and they have implemented strict rules for employees regarding the handling of emails".

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