Google Says Gmail Emails Can be Read by Human Third-Party App Developers

The Gmail email application is seen on a portable device in this photo illustration on December 6, 2017. (Credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Google has confirmed that private emails sent and received by Gmail users can sometimes be read by third-party app developers, not just machines.

People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given human staff permission to read their messages.

One company told the Wall Street Journal that the practice was “common” and a “dirty secret”.

Google indicated that the practice was not against its policies.

One security expert said it was “surprising” that Google allowed it.

Gmail is the world’s most popular email service with 1.4 billion users.

Google lets people connect their account to third-party email management tools, or services such as travel planning and price comparisons.

When linking an account to an external service, people are asked to grant certain permissions – which often include the ability to “read, send, delete and manage your email”.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this permission sometimes allows employees of third-party apps to read users’ emails.

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