Despite promises, Google still lets developers access user emails

Despite promises, Google still lets developers access user emails
Not that long ago, Google promised its users that it will stop using bots to search for potential information, that could aid advertising, within their emails. 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.

Although most of the work is still done by computers, in one case, a company called "Return Path" allowed some 8,000 emails to be read, unaltered, by its employees. While that number is just a drop in the ocean of email traffic, when it comes to privacy, most people wouldn't take even a tiny chance of someone unauthorized peeking into their inbox.

Developers swear that manual access is used only оn rare and special occasions and is solely to improve customer experience, but we've heard that reasoning enough times to know it's just something PR representatives are forced to say.

Before you start pointing fingers at Google, we should let you know that some of their competitors are guilty of the same sin. Microsoft and Oath Inc. (the Verizon company that acquired AOL and Yahoo!) are outed by the informants to also allow partnered developers access to users' emails. According to the sources, this "revelation" is nothing new within the industry as it is standard practice for most companies.

We are yet to see if this report will have enough of an impact to force email providers to keep their partners to higher privacy standards, something that would truly benefit the end user.

source: The Wall Street Journal via AppleInsider



1. IT-Engineer

Posts: 525; Member since: Feb 26, 2015


2. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Google promised it would stop scanning emails for the purpose of targeted ads. And it has stopped doing that. It does not say in the WSJ article they still do so. Also, Google doesn't just allow third parties to access your email. The user has to install an add-in and then explicitly give the add-in the permissions like read email in the popup. It's not like Google gives access without the user knowing. The user still has to install an add-in manually. This information I don't get from this article, which makes it seems like Google gives this access to third parties without user consent. Which is total nonsense.

4. Paximos

Posts: 282; Member since: Jul 26, 2012

......WithoutaClue definitely fits you right.

6. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Ah how sweet, did you come up with that reference all by yourself? Such a smart boy, your mom will be so proud

5. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

My email are my own; I'm not OK even when Google has access to them, that's why I use my own mail and iCloud mail. It just is not OK with having the personal communications exposed to ANYONE else but the sender and the ones one wants to send them to; it just is not OK.

7. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Then don't install those add-ins. Problem solved.

10. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I don't know what plug-in are you talking about, I'm pretty sure I hadn't been using any plugin. I have already solved the problem: I too was using gmail and gapps until I have seen an add, based on the terms of a conversation I had, so I wanted to contact Google on the matter; before that, I saw in the terms of gmail that Google can read each and every email in my account, so I stopped using Google email services. I checked out the terms for Outlook (MS) and iCloud (Apple) and found out that Apple is the only company (out of the 3) that doesn't read my mails, so now I use iCloud mail for my personal related conversations and my own mail server for my business related ones. My country has a really bad ombudsman, but I might find the time to take this matter to EC so that they investigate Google and Microsoft for interfering with private communications.

12. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Does iCloud offer spam recognition?

13. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Yes, it does, it's called "Junk".

14. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Then Apple has in its terms & conditions it can read your emails. Spam filters only work by reading your email and they have to put that in the terms & conditions.

16. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

”Spam” also means filtering messages by sender address, domain, IP, MAC etc. The TCU clearly specifies that Apple does not have access to the content of email communications. They are able to access them if there is a court order, because they have the encryption keys, but otherwise, no one will ever know the content except the sender and the recipient(s).

17. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

True, but they are severely limited. But since when did they stop filtering emails by offensive words?

18. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I don't know a single offensive word; as George Carlin used to say (I paraphrase): words are neutral, it's the context that is making them good or bad. Plus, one word could mean something in English and something else in Swahili. iCloud mail might be limited, because of the way it is filtering spam, but Gmail is offensive (and I think illegal), because it allows Google to read people's mails.

19. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Well, I love your choice in Standup comedians (love Carlin). But I doubt that Gmail is illegal since it's common practice among email providers and none of them has been sued. Not even when Google read people's emails for ad purposes. But you keep forgetting that a. it's those add-ins that read emails, not Google b. those add-ins tell the user they want permission to read emails c. they agree on these add-ins reading emails. Sure, people would think twice now perhaps when they know actual people read their emails. But it's not illegal by law.

20. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Dude, I have read in the terms Google and MS saying that they can and they do read mails, so it's not just those add-ins that you're talking about (sorry, I don't use Gmail - I have an account, but I only use it in my Android phone/s for Play Store and backup, so I don't know what add-ins you're talking about). If the users are being told their mails are being read, there's nothing illegal, but if Google doesn't give them the option to opt out (to withdraw their initial consent), it's illegal. In EU we have a new law called GDPR with the purpose to make sure companies are protecting their user's privacy; Google is already under investigation (Apple and MS too).

21. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

I know about GDPR, I am from Europe myself. And mostly it's a good thing. And yes, many companies are under investigation because they still 'force' you to opt all-in or leave their services. Those terms are for the spam-filters and services like automatic event services. Doesn't mean they actually read your emails. But let's end this discussion, neither of us is convincing the other and you are happy with your email choices, I am happy with mine

22. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

There's nothing I'm trying to convince you with. I'm just saying is not OK when a 3rd party (in this case Google) reads every mail that gets sent through their email service and it might also be illegal.

8. mootu

Posts: 1443; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

SSSShhhhhhhh! You can't let the truth out, it detracts from a good story.

9. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Oops, my sincerest apologies, what was I thinking

3. cjreyes666

Posts: 81; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Instead of just pointing fingers, give us solutions.

11. Leo_MC

Posts: 6894; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The best solution is: stop using Google mail services...

23. PhoenixFirebird

Posts: 116; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

I don’t mind anyone reading my medical lessons. Let them study some xD

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