Gmail and other services let third parties read users' emails


Posts: 8,321   +103
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Privacy matters Google may have promised to stop scanning the inboxes of Gmail users for ad-targeting purposes last year, but it still lets third-party app developers read your private messages. The Wall Street Journal reports that while many of these companies use algorithms to trawl through your emails for keywords, some allow their employees to examine them, too.

The Journal highlights two companies that it says engages in this practice. The first is Return Path, an app that analyzes inboxes of users who have signed up for one of the free apps in its partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo email address. The publication claims that two years ago, Return Path employees read about 8,000 emails to help train the company’s software.

Edison Software, a company that makes the Edison Mail app for iOS, was the other firm named. It’s said to have let workers read “thousands” of emails to help train its app’s “smart reply” feature.

While these kind of apps do ask for user consent, many of the forms don’t make it explicitly clear that a human will be reading through your emails, not just a machine. Both the app makers say their practices are covered in the user agreements.

Google said that it provides data to outside developers who have been vetted and who have been granted permission by users to access their email. It added that its own employees may read emails but only in “very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse.”

To find out and edit which third-party apps have access to your Gmail account, head to the My Account page and login.

Edison said it has since stopped this practice. "Our email app was mentioned in the context of our engineers having in the past the ability to read a small random sample of de-identified messages for R&D purposes. This method was used to guide us in developing our Smart Reply functionality which was developed some time ago," CEO Mikael Berner said in a statement. "We have since stopped this practice and expunged all such data in order to stay consistent with our company's commitment to achieving the highest standards possible for ensuring privacy."

Return Path also defended its actions. "As anyone who knows anything about software knows, humans program software – artificial intelligence comes directly from human intelligence," it said. "Any time our engineers or data scientists personally review emails in our panel (which again, is completely consistent with our policies), we take great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data."

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Sounds like Congress needs to call Google on the carpet like they did to Zuck .... and make it clear that ANY form of deception won't be tolerated without exception ....
In that case, the electorate ought to do likewise with Congress...


Posts: 176   +54
Google originally started as a spying project, with the money coming from US spying agencies. All of their products are spying in nature. Android is probably their biggest success, as everyone carries their personal spying devices on them nowadays.

But Gmail, Search and Maps aren't bad either. If you remember how Gmail started, it required people to send each other invitations. That was drawing suspicions from the very start, as it was clearly a method of detecting connections between the people.

Google nowadays collects so much data from unsuspecting victims that they can't even process it. They don't have Big Data, they have Yuuge Data. They collect more data than NSA. It's the reason Google is investing so much effort money in AI research. They need a way to dig out useful facts from the huge amount of information they are storing.

Ordinary data-mining software is not flexible or fast enough, so now they are working on software and hardware machine-learning projects that can analyze sound, picture and video. They want to create the ultimate source of news, to know everything what's going on in the world. And of course, they have to share that information with their sponsors, the spying organizations from Israel and United States.


Posts: 2,854   +200
I've moved all important emails billing and such to my main account for my ISP. I will not trust Yahoo or Gmail because those seem to be on hacker, scammers, crackers list to target email users...