Industry

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

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

Its employees examined hundreds of user emails in order to build a new feature for the app.

Ostensibly, Google only allows vetted third-party developers to request such permissions, and the intention of these companies is to use this information for targeted shopping suggestions and advertising, but the concern remains over how closely these companies are monitored once they've been granted access. Last year, the company promised to stop reading the emails of Gmail users in this manner but, as a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests, the company is still allowing third-party developers full access to your emails.

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 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. The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave developers outside the company access to inboxes. As part of the new updates, Google introduced a new search functionality that enables users to find settings and other info they might be looking for in their account, like how to change the password.

"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.

You can remove access for any service or application listed on the page and should do so for any that you don't use.

Two of its artificial-intelligence engineers signed agreements not to share anything they read, [CEO Mikael] Berner says.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, and analyst at Forrester, said tech companies need to make clear to users what the tradeoff is for receiving services for free.

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.

The report said a former officer for eDataSource Inc. said that having employees read someone else's emails is "common practice" for data collectors.

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.