Google reportedly allows outside app developers to read people's Gmails

Google reportedly allows outside app developers to read people's Gmails

One company told the Wall Street Journal that the practice was "common" and a "dirty secret".

Gmail allows its users to install additional apps that work with the online system.

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. Gmail users who signed up for "email-based services" like "shopping price comparisons", and "automated travel-itinerary planners" are most at risk of having their private messages read, The Journal reported. We suggested the very same thing previous year after a big Google Docs phishing scam hit Google users.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Google allows various third-party app developers to sift through its users Gmail messages under the guise of offering users better products and services.

To find out and edit which third-party apps have access to your Gmail account, head to the My Account page and login.

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.

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The companies said they didn't ask users about reading their emails because such language is "covered" by their user agreements. In other words: if you grant a company access to your email data, it may be that human employees read it.

One is Return Path, an app that collects data for marketers from users' inboxes.

Gmail's opt-in alert spells out generally what a user is agreeing to.

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

While these kind of apps do ask for user consent, numerous forms don't make it explicitly clear that a human will be reading through your emails, not just a machine. 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. "Any time our engineers or data scientists personally review emails in our panel (which again, is completely consistent with our policies), we take great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data".

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