Google Still Lets Third-Party Devs Scan Your Email

Judy Cobb
September 23, 2018

Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Americas, wrote in the letter that app companies must make their privacy policies "easily accessible to users to review before deciding whether to grant access".

Later, Google said in a blog post that the company is continuously vetting developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before it opens them for general access.

In a letter to members of the Senate Commerce Committee, Google acknowledged that it allows app developers to scan and compile details from Gmail messages, including details about purchases, travel and which other people users interact with.

Alphabet Inc's Google gave details about its policies for third-party Gmail add-ons but stopped short of fully addressing questions from US senators about developers who break its email-scanning rules. She noted that Google is usually able to detect apps that misrepresent themselves before they're given access but did not provide any information about specific companies that have been found to be in violation of its terms. Developers also need to tell users if the app changes how it uses the data.

"The privacy policy model is simply broken beyond fix".

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Molinari reiterated Google's comments in a July blogpost that its employees can read Gmail users' email content but that it restricts access to cases where a user has given consent, or when it needs to inspect content to investigate a bug or abuse.

Next week, the tech giants, including Google, Amazon, Apple and Twitter will be addressing the Senate over increased concerns over online privacy and to examine the safeguards in place to protect consumers.

Gmail, used by 1.4 billion people, is not the only Google service drawing lawmaker questions about oversight.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Journal there was "simply no way that Gmail users could imagine that their personal data would be transferred to third parties", and the revelation showed that the "privacy policy model is simply broken beyond fix".

If you trust Google, this is the second-factor security key for you. You can already disable the feature on mobile right now by heading to the settings for your account and turning off "Smart Replies".

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