How to stop your private Gmail messages being read by third parties

Gmail opti-in

GoogleGmail’s opt-in alert spells out generally what a user is agreeing

What isn't clear from The Journal's story is whether Google is doing anything differently than Microsoft or other rival email services.

Google "continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools", the report said late Monday. "We have since stopped this practice and expunged all such data in order to stay consistent with our company's commitment to achieving the highest standards possible for ensuring privacy".

The third-party developers who have access to Gmail user data allegedly share them with marketers, hedge funds and other businesses.

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Last year, the company promised to stop reading the emails of Gmail users in this manner but, as a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests, the company is still allowing third-party developers full access to your emails. Google declined to comment.

With Gmail being a free email service, it makes sense that Google would need to find a way to make money, right?

It pointed the BBC to its developer policies, which state: "There should be no surprises for Google users: hidden features, services, or actions that are inconsistent with the marketed goal of your application may lead Google to suspend your ability to access Google API Services".

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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.

According to Google, it provides data only to outside developers it has vetted and to whom users have explicitly granted permission to access email.

Google is allowing app developers to sift through your Gmail account. The report further states that not only can the companies developing products and services read users private emails, it also includes all their employees too. To develop its products like the "Smart Reply' feature, Edison Software has read thousands of emails".

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Companies that spoke to The Journal confirmed that the practice was specified in their user agreements and said they had implemented strict rules for employees regarding the handling of email.

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