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

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GoogleGmail’s opt-in alert spells out generally what a user is agreeing

A new report says Google allows third-party applications to scan the emails of some Gmail users.

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.

Nearly exactly a year ago, Google promised to stop scanning your inbox to serve up ads in Gmail, but as the Journal's article details, executives of the vetted third-party companies claimed that their employees would read millions of emails and that it was "common practice".

To recall, Google back in 2017, said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads.

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Only companies checked by Google would be able to access messages and users would have had to grant permission when they agreed to the terms and conditions of third-party tools. The increased scrutiny follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a data firm was accused of misusing the personal information of more than 80 million Facebook users in an attempt to sway elections.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to a number of companies that said they had read people's emails. 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. The Journal mentions two companies that have such practices in place, including Return Path, a marketing company, and Edison Software, which makes a mobile email app.

But you should make sure you trust the apps and developers that have such access to your accounts and that you are only giving them as much access as they need. An executive at another company said employees' reading of emails had become "common practice". Many of these developers simply want to offer a new email app, help you sift through your emails, or do something else you can't achieve through Gmail's core experience. Google itself is very strict about giving employees access to emails and limits it to situations where a security issue or bug requires it, or when users give Google explicit permission to do so according to the Wall Street Journal.

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