Third-party app developers scan through your Gmail

Gmail opti-in

Lots of people might have access to your data. 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.

People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given external developers permission to read their messages.

The third-party developers who have access to Gmail user data allegedly share them with marketers, hedge funds and other businesses. How about how Twitter tracks your activity across websites?

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

Edison Software told the newspaper it had reviewed the emails of hundreds of users to build a new software feature. We suggested the very same thing a year ago after a big Google Docs phishing scam hit Google users.

You can remove access for any service or application listed on the page and should do so for any that you don't use. Still, it's hard not to feel as if our privacy is being violated.

The Journal highlights two companies that it says engages in this practice. "It should very clearly say, 'We provide this service for free because we monetize your data in other ways, '" Khatibloo said. The popular email service, which has more than one billion users around the world, gave developers outside the company access to inboxes.

Google "does little to police those developers, who train their computers - and, in some cases, employees - to read their users' emails", the Journal reported. Its computers analyze about 100 million emails a day, while employees reading as much as 8,000 unredacted emails at one point. "As anyone who knows anything about software knows, humans program software - artificial intelligence comes directly from human intelligence", Return Path said in a blog post on its website.

Many software developers also said they go through inboxes to improve the user experience.

Khatibloo pointed out that the Gmail controversy affected more than just Gmail users.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that access is not restricted to computers accessing the data but that human employees may and do read emails as well.

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