Google doesn’t deny that Gmail add-on developers can read emails

In a blog about Gmail’s security and privacy, Google did not deny that third-party developers can read users’ email messages. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that hundreds of developers can access Gmail users’ emails.

Google’s Suzanne Frey reports that Google continues to monitor developers and their apps integrated into Gmail before making them available to the general public. This involves a manual and automated developer review, the company’s privacy policy is reviewed and the app is first tested internally within Google. She also believes that the apps must be clear in how they use data and they may only request relevant data.

Frey argues that no one at Google reads Gmail users’ emails, except in exceptional cases, such as at the user’s request in an abuse case. However, she does not comment on a recent report from The Wall Street Journal that employees of external development companies often have access to the content of the messages. She doesn’t say anything about whether third-party developers have the right to read the emails or are strictly prohibited from doing so. VentureBeat notes that Google’s own developer policies make no mention of the right of third-party employees to read users’ emails.

On Monday, the WSJ reported, based on many conversations with stakeholders, that Google allows software developers from third-party companies to scan the content of email messages from Gmail. This includes reading the emails of users who have signed up for Gmail-integrated services, such as certain clients, management systems, or other add-ons.

Frey doesn’t specifically comment on information from the WSJ that lists, for example, specific companies whose employees actually had access to Gmail users’ emails, when they probably didn’t have direct permission to do so.