Google's mail service has long been criticized for the invasive practices of the company, which runs almost entirely on employing all the data it collects on users to attract advertisers and target their wares to the people most likely to buy them. Last year, the company promised to stop reading the emails of Gmail users in this manner but, as a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests, the company is still allowing third-party developers full access to 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. Now, Google only allows vetted third-parties to gain such permissions but, as per the article, the number of developers with full access to your emails may number in the hundreds.
Not only are emails scanned by automated systems but the employees of these companies are said to collectively read millions of emails, according to executives quoted in the report. They also claimed that such access is subject to strict guidelines, though it's not really surprising that privacy advocates would be alarmed at someone in Silicon Valley having full access to personal correspondence between, say, two spouses, regardless of whatever guidelines may be imposed on the reader.
A recurring theme in the article seems to be that this is not a one-off occurrence, and is indeed 'common practice' within the industry. The same executives admitting Google's laissez-faire attitude also fingered other email providers like Microsoft and Yahoo as equally culpable, making us wonder just how hypocritical the Redmond giant's 'Scroogled' campaign may have been.
Those of you particularly concerned about the privacy cost of using what is arguably the most popular email provider in the world may check all the third-party applications that have access to your Gmail account right here.