Google confirms it's letting third parties scan your Gmail

Google's headquarters in Mountain View California

In a letter to USA senators Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy in the Americas admitted that it lets app developers access the inboxes of millions of users - even though Google itself stopped looking in 2017. In their letter to the company, the senators claim that one marketing company, Return Path Inc, read the private contents of 8,000 emails to train its AI algorithms.

The hearing is another in a series of grillings faced by the tech industry since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal revealed in March that Facebook allowed a third party to collect personal information on millions of users.

"Using software tools provided by Gmail and other email services, outside app developers can access information about what products people buy, where they travel and which friends and colleagues they interact with the most", reports the Wall Street Journal.

Google may face more heat from Washington lawmakers about how it safeguards customer data.

Google stopped scanning its Gmail for keywords previous year - but still allows third-party developers to do so, according to a July letter from Susan Molinari, Google point person for governmental affairs.

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However, Google has told lawmakers that the company has protections in place to prevent potential abuse.

The latest cue to act surprised: Google told USA lawmakers that it lets third-party devs scan and share email via Gmail.

At least 379 apps available on the Apple and Android marketplaces can access users' email data.

In a blog post defending how the user's security and privacy are ensured within Gmail, Google said that any app produced by a third-party goes through an extensive review process before it's allowed access to Gmail messages. If the company detects changes in the app's behavior, it will manually review that app and unverify it if it's determined to be in violation of Google's terms. In the past, the company has suspended apps for failing to be transparent to users, violating its rules on spam, and requesting data permissions that were not relevant to the app.

"The privacy policy model is simply broken beyond fix". The whole issue is a reminder to be careful of what add-ons you install.

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