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HEALTH/SCI/TECH

Google Says It’s Ok If Third-Party Apps Read and Share Your Gmail

photo of a desk with a computer and cell phone on it.
Google stopped reading your Gmail messages but they are okay if other apps do it. Image via Pixabay.

In 2017, Google said they no longer read users’ Gmail messages. They, however, said they allow third-party apps to read users’ Gmail messages as long as owners are aware that the apps can access their messages, but is that a realistic demand of consumers?

Google formerly scrutinized users’ emails in order to provide them with well-targeted ads, but stopped last year. Now some third-party apps that integrate with Gmail appear to have taken over this function.

Google’s VP of public policy and government affairs, Susan Molinari, said her company has no problem with this development so long as developers inform users of what they are doing with their data. In fact, developers can share accessed data with other parties so long they remain transparent and upfront with users.

Third-Party Apps Are Extensively Reviewed Before They Are Allowed to Scan Gmail Messages

“Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data,” Molinari wrote to lawmakers.

Google, however, assured users that their privacy is guaranteed even with the access granted to third-party apps. This they said, is because developers’ apps are delicately screened under a thorough review process before they are enabled to scan Gmail messages.

Developers are thoroughly evaluated and their app manually and automatically reviewed for legitimacy. The privacy policy of the app is also reviewed to ensure it does not misuse users’ data. A thorough testing of the app is made to ascertain it does what it says it does and does not have a hidden function.

Google Must Do More to Assure Users of Their Sincerity

To drive home this point, Google instructs developers that their apps should only collect needed data and nothing more. Apps should also be clear about how they are utilizing data they collect.

Google warns users to review permission requests made by other apps before installing them. They should install only after they understand the functions and necessity for the app as well as how it will utilize collected data. But who reads the fine print of a privacy policy or user policy?

While Google has attempted to exhibited transparency, how they evaluate and assure the transparency of third-party apps is another thing.

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1 Comment

  1. marianne r reynolds September 22, 2018

    I don’t think that’s up to @Google to decide.

    Reply

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