Google accused of allowing third-parties to read your Gmail

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  • The Wall Street Journal alleges that Google allows third-party companies to read your Gmail messages with an unknown amount of oversight.
  • Google itself promised to end the practice of reading Gmail messages a year ago; but apparently, third-parties were not part of that promise.
  • Google declined to comment on the WSJ article.

Today, The Wall Street Journal published an exposé about how Google reportedly allows partner companies to read your Gmail messages in order to offer you better products and services.

While many of the companies in question use machines to skim email messages for keywords and phrases, some companies allow human employees to read through your messages the old-fashioned way.

People who subscribe to email-based services are most susceptible to message skimming. These services are things like product price comparisons and automated travel planning.

A year ago, Google promised to stop reading email messages of its users; but according to this WSJ article, it has done little to prevent other organizations from doing so.

Google declined to comment on the matter.

Pretty much every major email provider allows developers to access inboxes of their users and people are almost always given a chance to opt-in or opt-out of the practice. With that in mind, the allegations against Google in this matter are not revelatory for the act of email-skimming, but rather for the idea that Google itself is curbing the method while still allowing others access.

It is also not clear what measures Google takes to vet and police third-party companies with access to Gmail messages.

Various representatives from companies that work with Google and read Gmail messages went on the record with The WSJ admitting that it is a “common practice” to snoop through email. However, the reps did acknowledge that there are strict rules put in place as specified by user agreements.

With 1.4 billion users, Gmail is far and away the world’s most popular email service. Gmail is so huge that if you combined all the users of the next 25 largest email providers, it would still be a smaller base than Gmail.

NEXT: Google will chat this week with other tech companies about privacy issues



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