Gmail messages 'read by human third parties'

Gmail messages 'read by human third parties'

Gmail messages 'read by human third parties'

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.

One company told the Wall Street Journal that the practice was "common" and a "dirty secret".

Hundreds of app developers electronically "scan" inboxes of the people who signed up for some of these programs, and in some cases employees do the reading, the paper reported. This is done by showing users ads based on what they like, which in the past Google used to scan the emails of users to see what they might be interested in.

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If you're concerned about third-parties potentially reading your messages you can stop this by visiting Google's Security Check-up page.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., says it provides data only to outside developers it has vetted and to whom users have explicitly granted permission to access email. In other words: if you grant a company access to your email data, it may be that human employees read it.

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

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Last year, Google said that it will keep the privacy of its users paramount and would stop its computers from scanning the inboxes of Gmail users for information to personalize advertisements. The company recently rolled out new features for Gmail in a bid to make it easier for users to navigate their account and review security and privacy options. "We have since stopped this practice and expunged all such data in order to stay consistent with our company's commitment to achieving the highest standards possible for ensuring privacy". Although most of the work is still done by computers, in one case, a company called "Return Path" allowed some 8,000 emails to be read, unaltered, by its employees.

It pointed the BBC to its developer policies, which state: "There should be no surprises for Google users: hidden features, services, or actions that are inconsistent with the marketed goal of your application may lead Google to suspend your ability to access Google API Services". There's no doubt that some of the actions described, such as having employees read users' emails to train machine learning algorithms, are cause for alarm.

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