Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users

Software Developers are Scanning the Inboxes of Gmail Users

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.

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. If you want to be able to use a mail app on your computer to manage your Gmail account or your Google calendar, it needs to be able to read and delete messages or appointments.

The Wall Street Journal's Douglas MacMillan reports Google promised to stop the practice because it wanted users to "remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount".

"As anyone who knows anything about software knows, humans program software - artificial intelligence comes directly from human intelligence", Return Path founder Matt Blumberg wrote, adding that the company takes "great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data, deploying a Virtual Safety Room, where data can not leave this VSR and all data is destroyed after the work is completed".

Google has not yet commented on the issue.

The revelation comes at a bad time for Google and Gmail, the world's largest email service with 1.4 billion users.

Google said only companies that had been vetted could access messages, and only if users had "explicitly granted permission to access email". In most cases, the people who signed up for the special price-comparison deals and other programs agreed to provide access to their inboxes as part of the opt-in process. It may do some internal testing to make sure of this, as well. Both companies say the practice is covered by their user agreements, and that they used strict protocols for the employees who read emails. eDataSource says it previously allowed employees to read some email data but recently ended that practice to better protect user privacy.

Google indicated that the practice was not against its policies.

"In another case, employees of Edison Software, another Gmail developer that makes a mobile app for reading and organizing email, personally reviewed the emails of hundreds of users to build a new feature, says Mikael Berner, the company's CEO", the report said.

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