There are many third-party apps that require access to your Gmail account. For instance, the ones that help you plan trips or shop online. The situation seems to be fine until one realizes other humans are also reading their emails.
According to a report from WSJ, third-party apps have access to users’ Gmail accounts and permission to read people’s emails but only after the consent of the users which nowadays isn’t important anymore.
The publication has named two apps among the list of many. Return Path – an app that collects data for marketers – read around 8,000 emails a couple of years ago. Another is Edison Software that is known to have allowed its employees to read thousands of emails to train their smart reply feature.
They defended themselves by saying their policies reflect their actions which are now a thing of the past and user consent was obtained before using the data. When accessing user data, the employees must stick to the rules.
Typically, a popup box is thrown in front of the users asking them for permissions to access different kinds of data and device components. However, it doesn’t explicitly mentions that humans would also be given to access it.
Google says it thoroughly checks third-party developers before giving them access to user data. This includes verifying that an app correctly identifies its developers and its privacy policies are clear and easily accessible.
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Giving apps access to users inbox may not come as a surprise at all. In fact, it’s a “common practice” implemented by other email providers. But even the thought of humans reading emails sends a chill down the spine when combined with the fact that Gmail is the biggest of all.
The timing of this news makes it more unpleasant. Facebook is facing the consequences of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company allowed third-party developer access and ended up giving the information of 87 million users. In the case of Google, fortunately, no misuse of data has been reported until now.
via The Verge