Google responds to lawmaker concerns over Gmail scanning

Google says app developers can still scan Gmail with opt-in

In a letter to United States senators Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy in the Americas admitted that it lets app developers access the inboxes of millions of users - even though Google itself stopped looking in 2017. In one instance, 8,000 emails were read by analysts at one app provider to help train the company's software.

The hearing is another in a series of grillings faced by the tech industry since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal revealed in March that Facebook allowed a third party to collect personal information on millions of users.

In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy. "The reported lack of oversight from Google to ensure that Gmail data is properly safeguarded is cause for concern", the committee said at the time.

Last year, Google made a big thing of announcing that it would no longer scan people's Gmail emails for keywords that could be used to target ads at them.

However, Google has told lawmakers that the company has protections in place to prevent potential abuse.

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He served as Deputy Minister of Public Security from 2006 to August 2011, and Minister from August 2011 to March 2016. The National Assembly is scheduled to convene a session next month and expected to elect a new president.

Alphabet Inc's Google gave details about its policies for third-party Gmail add-ons but stopped short of fully addressing questions from USA senators about developers who break its email-scanning rules.

"We make it possible for applications from other developers to integrate with Gmail - like email clients, trip planners and customer relationship management (CRM) systems - so that you have options around how you access and use your email", said Suzanne Frey, Director, Security, Trust and Privacy, Google Cloud.

"If we detect significant changes in the behavior of the app after it has been approved, we will once again manually review the app", she wrote.

Molinari said developers must gain consent from the user to access their data and must have a privacy policy if they intend on accessing sensitive data detailing how the app interacts with the data. This usually means a complaint made to Google about a user.

Molinari also addressed whether Google employees ever peek into your inbox. The whole issue is a reminder to be careful of what add-ons you install.

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