Sci-tech

Google lets 3rd-party app developers read your emails

Google lets 3rd-party app developers read your emails

Another free app, called Edison Software, which helps users manage their email, let its employees read thousands of Gmail messages to train the "Smart Reply" feature in its app, the Journal reported.

Because many of these apps increase the functionality of your Gmail, Thompson doesn't think Google should do away with them.

Are you connected to any data-sniffing apps? "However, before a published, non-Google app can access your Gmail messages, it goes through a multi-step review process that includes automated and manual review of the developer, assessment of the app's privacy policy and homepage to ensure it is a legitimate app, and in-app testing to ensure the app works as it says it does".

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret", says Mr. Loder.

Before a non-Google app may access data, Google shows a permissions screen that displays the types of data the app can access and how it can use that data.

Take a close look at the third-party apps, and what information they collect - some may access your Google contacts, while others might access Google Drive. In turn, some developers say they're not aware of any oversight from Google.

Google's developer agreement prohibits exposing a user's private data to anyone else "without explicit opt-in consent from that user". Google, whose Gmail service is the most popular of its kind at over a billion active users, has insisted that its current developer policies cover this practice.

Neither Return Path nor Edison asked users specifically whether it could read their emails. Though there is no evidence that third-party developers have misused the data, knowing that unknown persons can access personal data certainly raises apprehensions. It "flags potentially risky apps so you can revoke any previously granted permissions that you are no longer comfortable with", she wrote. In June a year ago, Google stopped scanning user's emails, which was being done to provide personalised ads.

Using a service like Gmail puts you at the mercy of companies like Google.

Google said it only reads emails in "cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse".

The revelation comes a year after Google announced it would stop scanning Gmail inboxes for information to personalize advertisements, claiming it wanted users to "remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount".


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