Just How Private Is Your Gmail Account?

On July 2nd the Wall Street Journal reported that Google allows third party application developers to scan gmail users’ inboxes. Yes, that means they can skim through your emails. Even though, just last year Google promised they would stop accessing Gmail accounts for ad targeting purposes. Read on to see what this promise excludes and what it means for your privacy.

Normally email-based applications require artificial intelligence (AI) to access personalized Gmail accounts so the offered services are streamlined. For example, a scheduler might sift through your email correspondence to map important dates.

The Wall Street Journal exposed that third party developers, employees in software firms Return Path and Edison Software among others, have access to your millions of emails too. In one instance people at Edison read over 8,000 personal emails to improve their own email-based AI.

Google is not monitoring the reach of these third party applications even though they control the platform developers wish to access. Both Return Path and Edison Software have released defensive statements about their involvement. Google hasn’t commented on the findings thus far.

What should you do?

1. Be aware – Gmail users who’ve signed up for email-based services should beware. Applications not operated by Edison Software or Return Path might still pass email data along to them via an indirect agreement.

2. Change those privacy settings – this exposure is similar to the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook. Like with Facebook, you can change these privacy settings.

3. Inform yourself – here is Google’s privacy policy, but to be safe if you have a Gmail account you’ll have to check the third party’s privacy policy. Check the apps with access to your gmail account here. You might be surprised just how many services have access!

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