Portable Device Applications

Source: NurPhoto / Getty

The tinfoil hat wearing portion of the internet will undoubtedly lose their minds reading this news. A very eye-opening report from The Wall Street Journal revealed that third-party app developers have been reading your emails, thanks to Gmail’s access settings. The WSJ also adds that Google is doing very little regarding policing those developers whose trained computers and human employees are sifting through Gmail users’ emails.

Per the WSJ:

“One of those companies is Return Path Inc., which collects data for marketers by scanning the inboxes of more than two million people who have signed up for one of the free apps in Return Path’s partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo email address. Computers normally do the scanning, analyzing about 100 million emails a day. At one point about two years ago, Return Path employees read about 8,000 unredacted emails to help train the company’s software, people familiar with the episode said.

In another case, employees of Edison Software, another Gmail developer that makes a mobile app for reading and organizing email, personally reviewed the emails of hundreds of users to build a new feature, says Mikael Berner, the company’s CEO.

Letting employees read user emails has even become “common practice” for companies that collect this type of data, says Thede Loder, the former chief technology officer at eDataSource Inc., a rival to Return Path.

Hope you have been keeping those emails PG, because there is no doubt it could have been seen by someone else’s eyes — including the recipient. This latest revelation only adds to the furor caused by a very similar situation by the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal. There have been no reports of abuse of the data (yet) but this is definitely walking a fine line when it comes to invasion of privacy. If you are worried after reading this, and rightfully so, you can head over here to see what apps have access to your emails.