Gmail and other services let third parties read users' emails

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users

App developers have been reading your Gmail, and it's alarmingly common

To find out and edit which third-party apps have access to your Gmail account, head to the My Account page and login. The Internet giant recently rolled out new features for Android users to make it easier for them to navigate their Gmail accounts and review security and privacy options.

Google promised a year ago to provide more privacy to Gmail users, but The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of app makers have access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users. Fresh reports have now emerged that claim Google allowed third-party app developers to read and browse through the emails of millions of Gmail users.

Google received plenty of criticism for having computers scan every Gmail email to deliver targeted ads.

Google, however, has denied privacy violations, stating data is provided to vetted third-party developers only and with the users' explicit consent.

It's obvious what Google apps are - things like Chrome and Drive.

Google "does little to police those developers, who train their computers - and, in some cases, employees - to read their users' emails", the Journal reported.

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You can opt out of data sharing in some cases - or you can stop using the service. An executive at another company said employees' reading of emails had become "common practice".

What is unclear is how closely these outside developers adhere to their agreements and whether Google does anything to ensure they do, as well as whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system, the report says.

One of those companies is Return Path Inc., which collects data for marketers by scanning the inboxes of more than two million people who have signed up for one of the free apps in Return Path's partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo email address.

The report has specifically mentioned two apps in its report, Return Path and Edison Software.

Although Return Path declined to comment on details of the incident, it did say it sometimes lets employees see emails when fixing problems with its algorithms. From there you will be able to see all the apps that now have access to your Google account, and you can remove some of them if you no longer use them or if you're not comfortable with it.

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