Google letter admits that it allows developers to collect data from Gmail accounts

Google letter admits that it allows developers to collect data from Gmail accounts
In a letter sent to U.S. senators back in July, Google says that it allows app developers to scan Gmail accounts and share the results with others. All Google asks is that the developers' privacy policies clearly reveal possible uses for this data. Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Americas said in the letter, "Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data." And the company says that it makes sure that these policies are easily found by Gmail users so they can be reviewed by them before deciding to allow the information to be used.

This is different than scanning Gmail for data to be used for ad targeting, a practice that Google put a halt to last year. But the results still infringe on users' privacy. The information that these app developers seek is the name of products you buy, which friends and co-workers you communicate with the most, and the name of places where you travel. The letter was sent in response to questions from lawmakers who were following up on an article published in the Wall Street Journal that explained how app developers can grab information from consumers' Gmail accounts. Some of the tools used by these developers are provided by Gmail, and some app developers have actually read the content of users' emails in order to fine tune their algorithms.


The letter will no doubt be brought up at next Wednesday's Commerce Committee hearing, which will be attended by privacy officials from Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, AT&T and Charter Communications. When it comes to matters of privacy, Congress now perks up like a dog hearing an electric can opener motor rev up. It has been that way ever since it was discovered that 87 million Facebook users had their profile data used without permission by Cambridge Analytica. The now defunct company allegedly sold that information to the Trump campaign, which reportedly used it to create psychological profiles used in the 2016 presidential campaign.

source: WSJ

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24 Comments

1. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 402; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

It's not like no one knows this. Google is a advertising company that data mines, they have no problem sharing the goods with others if prompted. This is why I wish Microsoft would push harder to be the tycoon they once was. At least Microsoft and Apple care somewhat about privacy. Surface phone needs to hurry up.

5. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

You make it sound like Google is giving all your information away. They cannot do that. Or else they would be brought up. It's also up to the user when they install an app. If it's looking for this information. Then it has to ask or the system prompts you for your permission. Do give the permission if the app looks like it doesn't need it. It's that simple.

7. rouyal

Posts: 1573; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

“Some of the tools used by these developers are provided by Gmail, and some app developers have actually read the content of users' emails in order to fine tune their algorithms.”

12. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

And all of these tools and apps are manually installed by the user. It's not like these app developers have access to your mail without any user interaction. Google doesn't share their data, the user itself does this.

16. fatTony

Posts: 114; Member since: Dec 20, 2012

No need to oversimplify this one. By now most users know that these guys use their privacy policies to sneak their questionable activities past us. How many people do you think read the privacy policy before clicking "Agree?" Even if the user reads the policy, he or she would need a lawyer next to them to interpret some of the legal language. Google and Facebook make most of their revenue from ads and user data (maybe we'll get royalty one day), and they're aware that we don't read those policies. The Cambridge Analytica thing wasn't too long ago. I have an Android phone and have no way around this. Refuse the ToS and can't use the service. "Accept it or else..."

13. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Google doesn't share data, that would undermine their own advertising business. They are not a data broker. People don't seem to understand this.

2. rouyal

Posts: 1573; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

Ugh. Guess I’ll have to start looking into making an Apple email... but I’ll more than likely be to lazy to do anything about it.

10. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Outside Apple devices (except outlook on windows) iCloud email experience is the worse.

3. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

"The information that these app developers seek is the name of products you buy, which friends and co-workers you communicate with the most, and the name of places where you travel." I'll take this with a grain of salt since it's Phonearena and there'll likey be a rejoinder that Apple doesn't do this and everyone should buy an iPhone. BUT, if it's anything close to the truth then I'll never use Gmail again. Unfortunately the other free alternatives have to find a way to pay their bills too. One interesting addition to this info is that Congressmen's private Gmail addresses are now under attack.

11. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The minute I've seen adds in my Gmail inbox and I read in Google's terms that it can forward my data to a 3rd party is the minute I stopped using Gmail. ICloud is the only free (important) mail service that doesn't look through one's mails. The user experience is not that good, but it's manageable, if you don't use it as the main mail service; I use my company mail, because exchange work better on any type of device with any type of os. It's not Apple you should be worried about but your own privacy. edit: people who need business tools know the power of MS and how they make money and Apple... who doesn't know about it?! Neither needs to mine your data in order to make a buck or two.

14. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

"edit: people who need business tools know the power of MS and how they make money and Apple... who doesn't know about it?! Neither needs to mine your data in order to make a buck or two." That is absolute bull, both MS and Apple datamine the crap out of anyone using their OS's and anyone thinking otherwise lives in an absolute dreamworld. It may not be their main source of income but they are harvesting info just as much as Google.

15. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I have no reason to believe your nonsense, unless you're providing some evidence. Apple does NOT have access to the content of iCloud mails, imessages, whatsapp archive (which is encrypted before reaching iCloud servers) - they clearly say that in their terms, every test proved this, there's no data leakage (except the password problem) so I can't simply believe a random dude on the internet which calls himself mootu, unless he gives me some prove. MS is the same: the data used in their free services (Outlook com for instance) is being accessed, but my personal data (my Office 365) is for my eyes only. So go play with your led soldiers, if you know s**t about this things, or at least talk to dumb asses that are stupid enough to believe your rant.

17. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

"Apple does NOT have access to the content of iCloud mails" A quote from Apples Legal privacy policy. "When your personal data is stored by Apple, we use computer systems with limited access housed in facilities using physical security measures. With the exception of iCloud Mail, iCloud data is stored in encrypted form including when we utilize third-party storage" https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/ so iCloud mail is not encrypted.

19. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

20. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

They may have a different set of rules for california but you are European arn't you? The fact is in Europe iCloud mail is not encrypted, so therefore "your" mail is not encrypted, but of course my "rants" cannot be beleived.

22. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

My link is actually Canada related, not California. But the terms of Apple products - with some exceptions - are basically the same (I have double checked the articles just to be sure). There are 3 companies: 2 of them tell me that they read my email - and they even allow 3rd party apps to read it - while one company tells me that my email is not being read unless police, respect agreement and security. Which one do you find is the reasonable choice?

23. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

Actually Google does not read your email either, they banned that practice within Google over a year ago. But you are correct that they do allow certain 3rd party developers to read them and i do agree totally that it's wrong. As for Apple stating they don't read your mail, well put it this way, they also flatly denied throttling peoples phones until caught. Who do i trust more?, the company that is open about what they do or the company that lies quite often about a lot of things. TBH i will trust the company that is open. BTW just because they deny law enforcement access does not mean that Apple themselves are not reading your mail, has anyone actually asked them?, i have no idea on that one.

24. Leo_MC

Posts: 7203; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

It's hard to say Google doesn't read your email as long as it pushes ads based on the user's conversations. You should trust the company that has the best values and upholds them. Apple does not deny the access to data for the authorities when a warrant is issued, it only refused to create an environment that would give access to data it doesnt' have access to.

21. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

They may have a different set of rules for california but you are European arn't you? The fact is in Europe iCloud mail is not encrypted, so therefore "your" mail is not encrypted, but of course my "rants" cannot be beleived.

18. mootu

Posts: 1500; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

"Apple does NOT have access to the content of iCloud mails" A quote from Apples Legal privacy policy. "When your personal data is stored by Apple, we use computer systems with limited access housed in facilities using physical security measures. With the exception of iCloud Mail, iCloud data is stored in encrypted form including when we utilize third-party storage" https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/ so iCloud mail is not encrypted. So don't believe some random dude, believe Apples own legal policy.

4. gamehead unregistered

So where's the news?

6. nikhil23

Posts: 427; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

so what ?

8. mrochester

Posts: 978; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

It’s amazing how people wilfully allow themselves to be abused repeatedly by Google.

9. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1246; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Hey, you don't say?

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