According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Google allows various third-party app developers to sift through its users Gmail messages under the guise of offering users better products and services.
Before you freak out, you should know that you've probably given your consent to those apps scanning your inbox, and, thus, having computers automatically go through your emails. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in an email that companies including Google and Facebook need take responsibility for how software developers leverage your data.
It's obvious what Google apps are - things like Chrome and Drive.
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The Journal reports that users signing up for certain email-based services using their Gmail account are agreeing to terms and conditions which allow the developers of the service in question to read their emails.
Neither of these two companies sought explicit permission from the users to read their emails but say that it is covered under their user agreements. Consumers' reaction is becoming a major challenge for tech companies as they face lawmakers, lawsuits and the threat of regulation over data policies they say they've been telling us about all along. The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software.
Both Return Path and Edison Software said they've now stopped the practice. The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave developers outside the company access to inboxes.
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.
Google's mail service has always been criticized for the invasive practices of the company, which runs nearly entirely on employing all the data it collects on users to attract advertisers and target their wares to the people most likely to buy them.