Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
IT | By Emmett Cole

App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common

App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common

According to Google, it provides data only to outside developers it has vetted and to whom users have explicitly granted permission to access email.

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. Gmail users who signed up for "email-based services" like "shopping price comparisons", and "automated travel-itinerary planners" are most at risk of having their private messages read, The Journal reported.

These IT employees are permitted to use systems or even other workers to read user emails. The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software. 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.

A report from the Wall Street Journal has shed light on the fact that app and software developers can access a users' Gmail account, with the ability to read emails, and that the practice is a common one across email providers.

Gmail is the world's most popular email service with 1.4 billion users.

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.

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.

The revelation could not have come at a worse time as, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, software companies are taking extra steps to protect data privacy of its users. However, installing them hands the app developers. 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.

Developers whose apps have such access to your account can't change your password, delete your account, or use Google Pay on your behalf, but they can potentially read your email - or have their employees do it.

The companies said they had not asked users for specific permission to read their Gmail messages, because the practice was covered by their user agreements.

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