Friday, 20 July, 2018

Google allowing third party app developers access to millions of gmail accounts

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common
Beatrice Douglas | 04 July, 2018, 00:52

Clients and services may require access; a third-party email client needs access to emails, and an add-on that runs directly on Gmail needs access as well. Google itself is very strict about giving employees access to emails and limits it to situations where a security issue or bug requires it, or when users give Google explicit permission to do so according to the Wall Street Journal.

Third-party developers may access emails on Gmail if users give them access to the data, that's the main takeaway from a new Wall Street Journal story (which I don't link to because paywall).

Letting employees read user emails has become "common practice" for companies that collect this type of data, says Thede Loder, the former chief technology officer at eDataSource Inc., a rival to Return Path. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in an email that companies including Google and Facebook need take responsibility for how software developers leverage your data.

Many software developers also said they go through inboxes to improve the user experience.

It's obvious what Google apps are - things like Chrome and Drive.

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


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

What is unclear is how closely these outside developers adhere to their agreements and whether Google does anything to ensure they do, as well as whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system, the report says. Consumers' reaction is becoming a major challenge for tech companies as they face lawmakers, lawsuits and the threat of regulation over data policies they say they've been telling us about all along.

A year ago, Google promised to stop scanning the inboxes of Gmail users but the company has not done much to protect Gmail inboxes obtained by outside software developers, according to the newspaper.

One security expert said it was "surprising" that Google allowed it. At one point, the company's employees apparently used to read about 8,000 uncensored emails to help train the company's software.

Google was yet to comment on the report.

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