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Google reportedly allows outside app developers to read people's Gmails

04 July 2018

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.

The Journal said Google confirmed it provides data to outside developers it has "vetted" and to whom users have granted access permission.

Mikael Berner, the CEO of Edison Software, a Gmail developer that offers a mobile app for organising email, told The Journal that its employees had read emails from hundreds of Gmail users as part of an effort to build a new feature.

When news broke this week that Google was letting Gmail app developers scan and even read your email, we heard what's become Silicon Valley's usual excuse: This is what you signed up for.

"It is not reasonable, practical or efficient to expect users to know how third-party companies will make use of their personal data", Rotenberg said.

It said Facebook for years let outside developers have access but claimed the practice was stopped by 2015. We suggested the very same thing a year ago after a big Google Docs phishing scam hit Google users. The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave developers outside the company access to inboxes.

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Google's mail service has always been criticized for the invasive practices of the company, which runs nearly entirely on employing all the data it collects on users to attract advertisers and target their wares to the people most likely to buy them.

The outside app companies receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners, according to The Journal.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, and analyst at Forrester, said tech companies need to make clear to users what the tradeoff is for receiving services for free.

The report said a former officer for eDataSource Inc. said that having employees read someone else's emails is "common practice" for data collectors.

Nearly exactly a year ago, Google promised to stop scanning your inbox to serve up ads in Gmail, but as the Journal's article details, executives of the vetted third-party companies claimed that their employees would read millions of emails and that it was "common practice".

Google was yet to comment on the report.

Google reportedly allows outside app developers to read people's Gmails