The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that hundreds of outside software developers were scanning the inboxes of millions of Gmail users. Google “does little to police those developers,” the paper reported.
It’s not news that Google and many top email providers enable outside developers to access users’ inboxes. In most cases, the people who signed up for the price-comparison deals or other programs agreed to provide access to their inboxes as part of the opt-in process. In Google’s case, outside developers must pass a vetting process, and as part of that, Google ensures they have an acceptable privacy agreement, The Journal reported, citing a Google representative.
What is unclear is how closely these outside developers adhere to their agreements and whether Google does anything to ensure they do, as well as whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system, the report says.
It’s interesting to note that, judging from The Journal’s story, very little indicates that Google is doing anything different from Microsoft or other top email providers. According to the newspaper, nothing in Microsoft or Yahoo’s policy agreements explicitly allows people to read others’ emails.