Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., says it provides data only to outside developers it has vetted and to whom users have explicitly granted permission to access email. According to the report, apparently it has become "common practice" for marketing companies to scan the emails of their users, although we suppose common isn't necessarily good. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google does little to police developers that gain access to inboxes by offering email-based services such as price comparisons or other tools.
These IT employees are permitted to use systems or even other workers to read user emails.
"As anyone who knows anything about software knows, humans program software - artificial intelligence comes directly from human intelligence", Return Path founder Matt Blumberg wrote, adding that the company takes "great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data, deploying a Virtual Safety Room, where data can not leave this VSR and all data is destroyed after the work is completed".
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that employees working with hundreds of software developers are capable of reading your private messages you send from Gmail.
One such company is Return Path, which collects data for marketers by scanning the inboxes of more than two million people who have signed up for one of the free apps in its partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft or Yahoo email address.
Although Return Path declined to comment on details of the incident, it did say it sometimes lets employees see emails when fixing problems with its algorithms.
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Millions of people are believed to have installed Gmail apps.
The revelation could not have come at a worse time as, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, software companies are taking extra steps to protect data privacy of its users.
People most susceptible to email skimming are those who have subscribed to various online services. However, installing them hands the app developers.
"In another case, employees of Edison Software, another Gmail developer that makes a mobile app for reading and organizing email, personally reviewed the emails of hundreds of users to build a new feature, says Mikael Berner, the company's CEO", the report said.
The companies said they had not asked users for specific permission to read their Gmail messages, because the practice was covered by their user agreements.