Google allows third-party developers to access your account data - here's how to disconnect apps you don't trust before they read your mail
You may not be the only one reading your messages in your Gmail account.
While Google itself has stopped scanning Gmail users' email, some third-party developers have created apps that can access consumers' accounts and scan their messages for marketing purposes, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. In some cases, it's not just the developers' computers, but their human employees that are reading Gmail users' messages, according to the report.
Google has long allowed software developers the ability to access users' accounts as long as users gave them permission. That ability was designed to allow developers to create apps that consumers could use to add events to their Google Calendars or to send messages from their Gmail accounts.
But marketing companies have created apps that take advantage of that access to get insights into consumers' behavior, according to the report. The apps offer things such as price comparison services or travel itinerary planning, but the language in their service agreements allows them to view users' email as well. In fact, it's become a "common practice" for marketing companies to scan consumers' email, the Journal reported.
It isn't clear how carefully Google is monitoring such uses. Many consumers may not be aware that they've given apps such access to their accounts. Even if they are, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal offers a worrisome example of how similar access to consumer data can be abused.
Here's how to see which apps have access to your Google account and how to block them from accessing it in the future.
From your Google Account homepage, go to the Sign-in & Security section.
Click on the "Apps with account access" link or scroll down to the very bottom of the page.
Select "Manage Apps" to see more details.
Google organizes apps that have access to your account into three different groups.
If you see one you don't trust, you can block it by clicking on "Remove Access."
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