Privacy has been an area of concern in the tech industry, with the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal coming to light. A report from earlier this week claimed that Google’s Gmail mailing platform is allowing third-party app developers to access your emails, despite promises of utmost privacy and security to its users. According to the report, hundreds of outside developers are being allowed by Google to scan the inboxes of users who have previously signed up for newsletters on various websites. In a blog post on Tuesday, however, Google stated that it continues to vet developers and their apps before general access is opened up.
Google said that it performs automatic processing of emails to reduce spam and phishing attempts, and that it does not process email content to serve ads. It added that this practice of automatic processing has caused some to “speculate mistakenly” that Google “reads” your emails. The company said “no-one at Google reads your Gmail, except in very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where [it needs] to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse.”
Back to app developers and their access, part of the vetting process includes ensuring developers accurately represent themselves, and only ask for relevant data with clear and prominent disclosures. However, if you’re still uncertain about the level of access each app has, and would like to check or remove an app integration, Google recommends users to make use of the Security Checkup section to control data access to apps that are linked to your account. This dashboard offers users functionality allowing them to revoke account login from dormant devices, review sign-ins on Web and mobile, and update recovery methods.
To set permissions, additionally, you can browse over to the official landing page here. Once logged in, it will display the number and extent of third-party apps that have access to your Google account. Look for the keyword “Has access to Gmail”, which reveals exactly what the phrase suggests. Unfortunately, however, users cannot selectively shut down access for Gmail and will have to click the Remove Access option to completely bar the app from accessing any of the data from your Google account – including, Google Contacts, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, Google+, and more. We could expect Google to expand functionality for selective filtering, especially after the recent controversy. Gmail users part of G Suitewill have to rely on admins, who can whitelist non-Google apps.