Third-parties may read your Google Mail emails if you allow it

Yolanda Curtis
July 3, 2018

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

CEO of Edison Software, a Google developer, Mikael Berner said that it was common practice for employees to read the inboxes of hundreds of Gmail users in order to build a new feature.

As per a report by Business Insider, software developed by third parties are able to scan and read your Gmail, apparently without much restriction from Google.

The Wall Street Journal's Douglas MacMillan reports Google promised to stop the practice because it wanted users to "remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount".

For example, the company Return Path uses computers to scan about 100 million emails a day from Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo! email inboxes of those who have signed up for a free app through its partner network.

Google lets people connect their account to third-party email management tools, or services such as travel planning and price comparisons. 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.

While messages are typically processed by computer algorithms, the newspaper spoke to several companies where employees had read "thousands" of email messages. While many of these companies in question utilise machines to go through users emails for keywords and phrases, some of them have it done manually by their employees.

Considering Gmail has 1.4 billion users, that is a vast pool of private data that is out for sale.

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

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. "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". The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software.

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