Google allows companies to read Gmail users' inboxes

Google allows companies to read Gmail users' inboxes

A new report says Google allows third-party applications to scan the emails of some Gmail users. As part of the new updates, Google introduced a new search functionality that enables users to find settings and other info they might be looking for in their account, like how to change the password. Gmail has almost 1.4 billion users globally - more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.

Google allows users to connect third-party services to their accounts, and it's here the problems arise. Most internet users have more than one email address, including work emails and personal ones.

Hundreds of app developers electronically "scan" inboxes of the people who signed up for some of these programs, and in some cases employees do the reading, the paper reported.

But you should make sure you trust the apps and developers that have such access to your accounts and that you are only giving them as much access as they need. There is also no option to deny certain access, it is always an all or nothing type of situation. Google itself is very strict about giving employees access to emails and limits it to situations where a security issue or bug requires it, or when users give Google explicit permission to do so according to the Wall Street Journal.

While messages are typically processed by computer algorithms, the newspaper spoke to several companies where employees had read "thousands" of email messages.

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The outside app companies receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners, according to The Journal.

Even as Facebook struggles to recover from the massive data scandal that wiped off billions of dollars from its market cap, other tech giants aren't breathing easy either.

What isn't clear from The Journal's story is whether Google is doing anything differently than Microsoft or other rival email services. We suggested the very same thing past year after a big Google Docs phishing scam hit Google users.

If any apps give you the creeps about what kind of data it can pilfer from you, you can simply click on "Remove access" to banish it into the digital trash bin.

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