Google may not read your Gmail messages, but third-party apps do

Google says app developers can still scan Gmail with opt-in

"Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data", Google's Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs wrote in the letter addressed to senators.

Big quote: "In some cases, employees at these app companies have read people's actual emails in order to improve their software algorithms".

The hearing is another in a series of grillings faced by the tech industry since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal revealed in March that Facebook allowed a third party to collect personal information on millions of users.

In 2017, Google had said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads.

In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy.

Google may face more heat from Washington lawmakers about how it safeguards customer data.

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However, Google has told lawmakers that the company has protections in place to prevent potential abuse.

Google told US senators it still allows third-party app developers who work with Gmail and build software to scan user inboxes, even though it has stopped processing Gmail messages to target ads, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The letter, dated July, says that there is a strict policy against apps that don't make their privacy policy clear or misrepresent themselves.

Google has responded to questions from senior Republican senators about how it monitors and controls app developers' access to Gmail content. In the past, the company has suspended apps for failing to be transparent to users, violating its rules on spam, and requesting data permissions that were not relevant to the app. "No humans at Google read users' Gmail, except in very specific cases where they ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse", the company said.

"It includes automated and manual review of the developer, assessment of the app's privacy policy and homepage to ensure it is a legitimate app, and in-app testing to ensure the app works as it says it does", Frey noted.

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