Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Gmail messages 'read by third parties'

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common
Emmett Howard | 03 July, 2018, 17:21

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".

But the Journal found that Google "continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools". That means even non-users will find their private communications on Google servers, if they're communicating with a Gmail user.

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 same executives admitting Google's laissez-faire attitude also fingered other email providers like Microsoft and Yahoo as equally culpable, making us wonder just how hypocritical the Redmond giant's "Scroogled" campaign may have been.

People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given external developers permission to read their messages.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that employees working with hundreds of software developers are capable of reading your private messages you send from Gmail. Google declined to comment.

One is Return Path, an app that collects data for marketers from users' inboxes. The increased scrutiny follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the now defunct data firm accused of misusing the personal information of more than 80 million Facebook users in an attempt to sway elections.

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Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers-and, in.

One security expert said it was "surprising" that Google allowed it.

Again, if no consent were obtained, it would contravene Google's own developer agreement, which requires explicit opt-in consent when a user's "non-public content is obtained through the APIs".

Google's system allows or disallows access to the email data only; the company makes no distinction between algorithms that read emails, for instance to provide functionality, and humans who read it.

Companies that spoke to The Journal confirmed that the practice was specified in their user agreements and said they had implemented strict rules for employees regarding the handling of email.

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