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Friday, 21 September 2018 05:55

Google defends third-party developers' scanning of Gmail inboxes Featured

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Google defends third-party developers' scanning of Gmail inboxes Pixabay

Google has mounted a defence of the way it scrutinises the activities of third-party add-ons within its Gmail email service, telling a number of US senators in a letter on Thursday that most add-ons which had malicious intentions were caught in a review before they were allowed to be deployed.

But the company was silent on the number of add-ons that had been found to be violating its Gmail policies. It said that third-party developers could collect and use Gmail users' data "long as they are transparent” about what they do.

Reuters  reported that the search company has said in a letter that it used automated scans and feedback from security professionals to track what third parties, who had access to Gmail data did.

In July, a report in The Wall Street Journal disclosed that while Google was allowing third-party developers to scan Gmail accounts.

The report said these developers, who were not not Google employees, were allowed to scan the Gmail accounts of millions who had become part of email-based services like those which offer price comparisons or travel-itinerary planners.

It cited the example of a company known as Return Path which used computers to scan about 100 million emails a day from Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo! email inboxes of those who had signed up for a free app through its partner network. This company collects data for marketers through this scanning.

The report said, at one point, Return Path workers read about 8000 unredacted emails to train their company's scanning software.

A number of American politicians wrote to Google about the handling of users' personal information in the wake of this report.

The US Senate's Commerce Committee has set a hearing for 26 September to question Google, Apple, AT&T and Twitter about the way consumers are provided data privacy.

iTWire contacted Google and asked for a copy of this letter. In response, a company spokesperson said: "We addressed this topic in a blog post in July. Please refer there for details. We are checking with our policy team on the letter request."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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