Google Gmail Inboxes Can Be Read by Software Developers

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The Journal highlights two companies that it says engages in this practice.

The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave hundreds of developers outside the company full access to users' inboxes. Following a Wall Street Journal story about the access third party apps have to Gmail data, we wrote about how to stop it. However, if you're still uncertain about the level of access each app has, and would like to check or remove an app integration, Google recommends users to make use of the Security Checkup section to control data access to apps that are linked to your account.

Gmail is a prime data source for app developers and marketers, as it contains a wide range of consumer information ranging from travel itineraries to shopping histories.

Some examples of apps that request access to your inbox include Earny, Unroll.Me and Boomerang.

Accurately represent themselves: Apps should not misrepresent their identity and must be clear about how they are using your data.

They were then able to read and scan private emails to target adverts.

Some of these companies train software to scan the email, while others enable their workers to pore over private messages, the report says.

In Google's case, outside developers must pass a vetting process, and as part of that, Google ensures they have an acceptable privacy agreement, The Journal reported, citing a Google representative. While many of these companies in question utilise machines to go through users emails for keywords and phrases, some of them have it done manually by their employees. Email managing firms Return Path and Edison Software are few of the trusted companies. There is no suggestion of misuse of data by Google or its third-party providers.

Before a non-Google app may access data, Google shows a permissions screen that displays the types of data the app can access and how it can use that data.

Google said a year ago its computers would no longer scan Gmail inboxes for info to personalize ads, so that users could "remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount".

Edison Software told the newspaper it had reviewed the emails of hundreds of users to build a new software feature.

The category that you'll want to pay particularly close attention to, however, are apps that are labeled "Third-party apps with account access".

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