Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Third-party developers able to scan Gmail accounts

Third-party developers able to scan Gmail accounts

The Wall Street Journal published what seemed like a bombshell report about developers being able to read your emails if you give them access to your Gmail account.

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.

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

The companies that had spokespeople quoted in the article claim that all their employees must adhere to strict guidelines when checking user data, and while there are no signs of misuse amongst other developers, the potential is certainly there.

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".

People most susceptible to email skimming are those who have subscribed to various online services like product price comparison websites and automated travel planning websites.

Millions of people are believed to have installed Gmail apps.

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

Last year Google assured that it would stop scanning emails and ensure complete privacy of its users.

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. "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".

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret".

Google said only companies that had been vetted could access messages, and only if users had "explicitly granted permission to access email". "It's kind of reality". The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software. Both the app makers say their practices are covered in the user agreements.

It's not news that Google and most of the other top email providers enable outside developers to access the inboxes of users.

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