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Google says it's vetting third-party apps, and not reading your emails

There was severe backlash after reports suggested that third-party apps have access to Gmail

Santanu Basu @shaanthegame 5 July 2018, 2:12 PM
Gmail has nearly 1.4 billion users globally, and 63 per cent of total email users worldwide use it

Gmail has nearly 1.4 billion users globally, and 63 per cent of total email users worldwide use it Image: Thinkstock

Google has said that it is vetting and continuously keeping a watch on applications before presenting them for general access.

A recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that Google has allowed third-party apps to scan through Gmail accounts. It further stated that the Internet giant lets hundreds of software developers scan inboxes of Gmail users who sign up for email-based services such as shopping, price comparisons, travel-itinerary planning, to name a few.

Suzanne Frey, director, security, trust, and privacy, Google Cloud, said, "We make it possible for applications from other developers to integrate with Gmail — like email clients, trip planners and customer relationship management (CRM) systems — so that you have options around how you access and use your email. Before a non-Google app is able to access your data, we show a permissions screen that clearly shows the types of data the app can access and how it can use that data. We strongly encourage you to review the permissions screen before granting access to any non-Google application. To be absolutely clear: no one at Google reads your Gmail, except in very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse." 

Although Google said it reads emails in "specific cases", companies such as Return Path Inc, which collect data for marketing by scanning inboxes, has said that its employees read 8,000 unread, unredacted emails to train the company's software. 

Employees of Edison software (a Google developer) said they personally reviewed emails of hundreds of users to create a new feature. Last year, Google had said that its computers will soon stop reading emails to personalise ads but that hasn't happened till now.

Facebook had stopped giving access to its users' data in 2015 after a scandal where a developer sold data of tens of millions of people to a research firm linked to President Donald Trump's election campaign. 

Facebook is a social media website which people can replace with something else or even stay away from. But their email or Gmail (at least for 63 per cent of total email users in the world) is something they access on a daily basis. It's time for you to review the third-party apps and completely disable them in your Gmail account because your email contains more sensitive data than your social media accounts.

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