Third-party app developers scan through your Gmail

Third-party app developers scan through your Gmail

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.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that access is not restricted to computers accessing the data but that human employees may and do read emails as well.

The app companies say that their actions are covered by their user agreements. 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.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this permission sometimes allows employees of third-party apps to read users' emails. Since then, data privacy from third-party app developers has been a global hot button topic.

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If a human does read your email, the chances are that your actual address is shielded so they won't know whose email they're reading. We talked about this before. We can try to contain the matter - in case of email, we all should read privacy policies, and/or revoke access to any app that might have the power to read your emails.

The outside app companies receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners, according to The Journal. Well, to improve their services.

Both Return Path and Edison Software said they've now stopped the practice.

Computers normally do the scanning, analyzing about 100 million emails a day.

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"Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers - and, in some cases, employees - to read their users' emails", the report further stated.

The Journal highlights two companies that it says engages in this practice.

Return Path posted a response to the report on its website, saying it had worked with the reporter on the story and felt they were "extremely and somewhat carelessly selective" in what information the reporter chose to include. Then, working on machines that prevented them from downloading information to other devices, they read the personal email messages of hundreds of users-with user information already redacted-along with the system's suggested replies, manually indicating whether each made sense.

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