Google Lets App Developers Read Your Gmail

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However, new information surfaced in a report by The Wall Street Journal, that this practice is not only continuing, but emails are also read by employees of various third party app developers.

The third-party developers who have access to Gmail user data allegedly share them with marketers, hedge funds and other businesses.

Google has confirmed that private emails sent and received by Gmail users can sometimes be read by third-party app developers.

Google indicated that the practice was not against its policies.

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Google "continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools", the report stated.

The first is Return Path, an app that analyzes inboxes of users who have signed up for one of the free apps in its partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo email address.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that access is not restricted to computers accessing the data but that human employees may and do read emails as well.

Gmail allows its users to install additional apps that work with the online system.

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Google's mail service has always been criticized for the invasive practices of the company, which runs nearly entirely on employing all the data it collects on users to attract advertisers and target their wares to the people most likely to buy them.

Another firm - eDataSource Inc - said engineers had previously reviewed emails to improve its algorithms.

"Some people might consider that to be a dirty secret", says Mr. Loder. An executive at another company said employees' reading of emails had become "common practice". "It's kind of reality", he told the Journal. The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software.

It pointed the BBC to its developer policies, which state: "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 your ability to access Google API Services".

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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.

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