Tech's 'dirty secret': App developers are sifting through your Gmail

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Fresh reports have now emerged that claim Google allowed third-party app developers to read and browse through the emails of millions of Gmail users.

Google told us that it vets partners to make sure they're only requesting data that users have given them access to and that they have a privacy policy in place.

Those of you particularly concerned about the privacy cost of using what is arguably the most popular email provider in the world may check all the third-party applications that have access to your Gmail account right here.

The three groups are apps that allow for "Signing in with Google", "Third-party apps with account access", and "Google apps". As part of the new updates, Google introduced a new search functionality that enables users to find settings and other info they might be looking for in their account, like how to change the password.

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Not only are emails scanned by automated systems but the employees of these companies are said to collectively read millions of emails, according to executives quoted in the report.

The other side of the medal is that developers sometimes request permissions that they don't need explicitly and that it is often hard for users to determine whether the request makes sense.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that access is not restricted to computers accessing the data but that human employees may and do read emails as well.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that employees working with hundreds of software developers are capable of reading your private messages you send from Gmail. Top tech companies are under pressure in the United States and Europe to do more to protect user privacy and be more transparent about any parties with access to people's data.

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While these kind of apps do ask for user consent, numerous forms don't make it explicitly clear that a human will be reading through your emails, not just a machine.

One developer called Return Path, a marketing company that offers free email organization tools, let its workers read about 8,000 user emails two years ago to help develop the company's software.

It's obvious what Google apps are - things like Chrome and Drive.

You may need to research each individual program or service to make an educated decision.

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Some apps require those kinds of permissions to do what you've asked them to do.