Google allowing third party app developers access to millions of gmail accounts

Google allowing third party app developers access to millions of gmail accounts

In their investigative report, it's further alleged that "hundreds" of software developers are able to scan the emails of users who have signed up for apps ranging in type from price comparison tools to travel planners.

The revelation comes at a bad time for Google and Gmail, the world's largest email service with 1.4 billion users. Some people don't bother to read the permissions when they hastily start clicking through security/privacy prompts, but Google says that developers need a user's explicit consent to monitor your Gmail account. Some allow people to write emails in special fonts, or to make it easier to find images to send to others, while others make it easier for people to organise their emails into folders.

"Email data collectors use software to scan millions of messages a day, looking for clues about consumers that they can sell to marketers, hedge funds and other businesses", the report added, saying data miners generally have access to other email services besides Gmail.

The feature was finally dropped a year ago, in a move welcomed by privacy advocates, but it turns out employees of third-party app developers may well have been reading your private messages.

Gmail's opt-in alert spells out generally what a user is agreeing to.

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One security expert said it was "surprising" that Google allowed it. The publication claims that two years ago, Return Path employees read about 8,000 emails to help train the company's software.

The "Third-party apps with account access" typically have access to much more than just your basic profile information.

It's interesting to note that, judging from The Journal's story, very little indicates that Google is doing anything different from Microsoft or other top email providers. The Journal mentions two companies that have such practices in place, including Return Path, a marketing company, and Edison Software, which makes a mobile email app.

For those who might be concerned about this discovery, you can go to your Google Account's main page, head to the Sign-in & Security section and select "Apps with account access".

The companies said they didn't ask users about reading their emails because such language is "covered" by their user agreements.

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