Gmail messages 'read by human third parties'

BY LEAH WILLIAMS
Posted on JUL 29, 2019

Third-party app developers read private emails to improve algorithms within Gmail accounts.

Google confirms private emails sent and received by Gmail users may be read by third-party app developers. Users with connected third-party apps may have unconsciously provided human staff permission to read private email messages.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the misrepresented permission allows employees of third-party apps to read users' emails. An internal source explained to the newspaper how messages are typically processed by computer algorithms, resulting in several company employees reading "thousands" of email messages.
Edison Software revealed to the Wall Street Journal the premises for reviewing emails of hundreds of users as "building a new software feature".

Firm eDataSource Inc additionally confirmed that engineers had previously reviewed emails to improve its algorithms.

As the practice was covered by their user agreements, the companies said they had not asked users for specific permission to read their Gmail messages.

"You can spend weeks of your life reading terms and conditions," said Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey. "It might well be mentioned in there, but it's not what you would think of as reasonable, for a human being in a third-party company to be able to read your emails."

In a statement, Google says vetted organizations are the only permitted companies that may access messages, and only if users had "explicitly granted permission to access email"