Gmail and other services let third parties read users' emails

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users

When linking an account to a third party, users are asked to certain access permissions, often including access to read, send, manage or even delete emails.

Because many of these apps increase the functionality of your Gmail, Thompson doesn't think Google should do away with them. Thompson said. "What you don't want is you don't want an app that you use to organize your inbox more efficiently which then sells your data to marketers or then sells it to hedge funds for investment decisions".

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret".

The Wall Street Journal originally reported that two apps in particular have admitted to reading emails.

Google plainly states, that "When you give an app full account access, it can see and change almost all information in your Google Account". This is done by showing users ads based on what they like, which in the past Google used to scan the emails of users to see what they might be interested in. Now responding on the issue, the search giant Google has released an official blog post clearing its stance on the issue.

With 1.4 billion users that make up almost two-thirds of all active email users worldwide, Gmail is the world's top email service.

"Overall there should be no surprises for Google users: hidden features, services, or actions that are inconsistent with the marketed objective of your application may lead Google to suspend [access]". And once they've finished using the service, they may not remember that they gave a developer ongoing access to read their emails.

And although the spotlight is on Google, Tobok says it's not the only company that is negligent with consumer data.

Several companies such as Edison Software and eDataSource Inc have confirmed they had read emails in order to improve their services.

Google's statement comes amid escalating privacy concerns among users over how big tech companies are using their data.

"We strongly encourage you to review the permissions screen before granting access to any non-Google application", the Internet giant suggested.

Although Tobok has suggestions for protecting personal information on Gmail and other email services, he says there are always risks with companies that make their money by selling data.

Google told the WSJ that its own employees read emails only "in very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse".

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