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Google: Just Vetting Third Party Apps, Not Reading Your Gmail

According to Google, it gives both enterprise admins and individual consumers transparency and control over how their data is used

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Google's mailing app 'Inbox' to discontinue from March 2019. Pixabay

After facing a backlash over reports that third-party app developers can read your Gmail, Google on Wednesday said the company is continuously vetting developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before it opens them for general access.

A Wall Street Journal report earlier this week claimed that the search giant is reportedly allowing third-party app developers scan through Gmail accounts.

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.

According to Google, it gives both enterprise admins and individual consumers transparency and control over how their data is used.

“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,” Suzanne Frey, Director, Security, Trust and Privacy, Google Cloud, said in a blog post.

Before a published, non-Google app can access your Gmail messages, it goes through a multi-step review process at the company, it said.

“It includes automated and manual review of the developer, assessment of the app’s privacy policy and homepage to ensure it is a legitimate app, and in-app testing to ensure the app works as it says it does,” Frey noted.

Frey stressed that the company reviews non-Google applications to make sure they continue to meet its policies, and suspend them when it is aware they do not.

Representational image.
Google on a smartphone device, Pixabay

“Before a non-Google app is able to access your data, we show a permissions screen that clearly shows the types of data the app can access and how it can use that data.

“We strongly encourage you to review the permissions screen before granting access to any non-Google application,” the Internet giant suggested.

According to Google, Gmail has safety features such as protections that allow it to prevent more than 99.9 per cent of spam and phishing emails from reaching the inbox.

“We do not process email content to serve ads, and we are not compensated by developers for API access. Gmail’s primary business model is to sell our paid email service to organisations as a part of G Suite,” Frey informed.

Also Read: Google, Facebook Have Been Using “Dark Patterns”: Report

The practice of automatic processing has caused some to speculate mistakenly that Google “reads” your emails.

“To be absolutely clear: no one at Google reads your Gmail, except in very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse,” she added.

Gmail has nearly 1.4 billion users globally — more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.

In 2017, Google had said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads. (IANS)

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EU Fines Google $1.7 bn for Unfair Online Ad Rules

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

The European Union’s antitrust regulators on Wednesday fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites, the European Commission (EC) said in a statement.

“Today the Commission has fined Google 1.49 billion euros for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts,” EC Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

It is the third EU fine for Google in just two years.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager said.

The Commission said the fine which is equivalent to 1.29 per cent of Google’s turnover in 2018 takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement.

“The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition,” Vestager said.

Websites such as newspaper websites, blogs or travel sites aggregators often have a search function embedded.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

When a user searches using this search function, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

Through AdSense for Search, Google provides these search adverts to owners of “publisher” websites.

Google is an intermediary, like an advertising broker, between advertisers and website owners that want to profit from the space around their search results pages.

Therefore, AdSense for Search works as an online search advertising intermediation platform.

Also Read- Samsung to Launch its First 5G Smartphone in Market in April

Google was by far the strongest player in online search advertising intermediation in the European Economic Area (EEA), with a market share above 70 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

Google’s provision of online search advertising intermediation services to the most commercially important publishers took place via agreements that were individually negotiated.

The Commission reviewed hundreds of such agreements in the course of its investigation and found that starting in 2006, Google included exclusivity clauses in its contracts.

This meant that publishers were prohibited from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, the European Commission said. (IANS)