Google: 'We' don't scan your email'

Helen Aguilar
July 4, 2018

Now, Google only allows vetted third-parties to gain such permissions but, as per the article, the number of developers with full access to your emails may number in the hundreds. This company collects data for marketers through this scanning.

The Journal reports that users signing up for certain email-based services using their Gmail account are agreeing to terms and conditions which allow the developers of the service in question to read their emails.

"As anyone who knows anything about software knows, humans program software - artificial intelligence comes directly from human intelligence", Return Path founder Matt Blumberg wrote, adding that the company takes "great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data, deploying a Virtual Safety Room, where data can not leave this VSR and all data is destroyed after the work is completed". 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. "Our email app was mentioned in the context of our engineers having in the past the ability to read a small random sample of de-identified messages for R&D purposes".

Google has not yet commented on the issue.

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According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Google allows various third-party app developers to sift through its users Gmail messages under the guise of offering users better products and services.

For example, the company Return Path uses computers to scan about 100 million emails a day from Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo! email inboxes of those who have signed up for a free app through its partner network. The increased scrutiny follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a data firm was accused of misusing the personal information of more than 80 million Facebook users in an attempt to sway elections.

Google has confirmed that private emails sent and received by Gmail users can sometimes be read by third-party app developers. However, installing them hands the app developers. An executive at another company said employees' reading of emails had become "common practice". They defended this action by saying, "The practice is specified in their user agreements and they have implemented strict rules for employees regarding the handling of emails".

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