Tech

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

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

Following a Wall Street Journal story about the access third party apps have to Gmail data, we wrote about how to stop it. That meant millions of personal messages that should have been deleted were passing through to Return Path's servers, the person says.

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret", says Mr. Loder. The Wall Street Journal reports that while many of these companies use algorithms to trawl through your emails for keywords, some allow their employees to examine them, too.

The furore continues an ongoing theme in Silicon Valley: the security risks posed by third-party apps attached to popular web platforms. If you're a Google Apps for Business user, you can set permissions so that your users can't even grant those sorts of permissions, either per app or in general.

In a statement, a Google rep said that the practice involved only vetted companies and that users are willingly agreeing to it, as they submit their accounts to this when granting apps email access.

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"It includes automated and manual review of the developer, assessment of the app's privacy policy and homepage to ensure it is a legitimate app, and in-app testing to ensure the app works as it says it does", Frey noted. (Gmail has more than 1 billion monthly active users.) In some cases, developers' employees had access to thousands of Gmail users' emails. Coming to Edison Software, they are a company that help users in managing their emails.

Security expert Troy Hunt says that agreeing to give any app access to your email is a serious decision with big implications for your privacy and data security, but that the possibility of an another person seeing your private communications isn't really the part you should be anxious about. Its rules also bar app developers from making permanent copies of user data and storing them in a database.

So far, there has been no proof that data acquired by Google or these third-party developers have been misused, just like with the aforementioned Cambridge Analytica scandal. 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.

Users need to give explicit consent to applications or services, and if that happens through a token-based system that Google uses for this kind of authorization, it does happen without users having to supply their username or password to these companies.