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. The report further states that not only can the companies developing products and services read users private emails, it also includes all their employees too. While many of these companies in question utilise machines to go through users emails for keywords and phrases, some of them have it done manually by their employees.
People most susceptible to email skimming are those who have subscribed to various online services like product price comparison websites and automated travel planning websites. This is in contrast with what Google promised last year, where it said that it would stop reading its users email messages, which might be true, but it has done very little to stop other partner organisations from doing so.
The report has specifically mentioned two apps in its report, Return Path and Edison Software. Return Path is an app that collects data for marketers by analysing users’ inbox emails. The company has read over 8,000 emails to develop its software. Coming to Edison Software, they are a company that help users in managing their emails. To develop its products like the ‘Smart Reply’ feature, Edison Software has read thousands of emails.
Email providers giving third-party developer’s access to its users’ inboxes is a common practice these days. Most of these providers give users a choice of opting in or out of the practice. The point here is that even though Google is curbing its own practice of going through the users’ emails, it is allowing other companies to still do that.
Many representatives from these alleged third-party companies went on the record with WSJ, admitting to the fact that sifting through users emails has become a common practice at their work-places. However, there are strict rules put in place as specified by user agreements.
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