Tuesday January 22, 2019
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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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Google’s Censored China Search Engine Project Triggers Protests

Several Google employees, including former Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, resigned in September, citing lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project

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

Google’s offices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark witnessed renewed protests by human rights groups over its plan to re-enter China through a censored search application code-named “Project Dragonfly”.

The demonstrations were organised by coalition of Chinese, Tibetan, Uighur, and human rights groups outside the tech giant’s offices. The Tibetan advocacy groups that were protesting included Free Tibet and the International Tibet Network.

“They fear that a censored search engine would lead to further oppression of the Tibetans, as filtered searches would erase terms such as ‘Tibet’ and ‘Tiananmen Square’ in line with the official narrative of the Chinese Communist Party,” the Business Insider reported late on Friday.

The same concerns apply to the Chinese citizens, including other oppressed minorities such as Uighur Muslims and Southern Mongolian people, the report added.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

The Internet giant designed a censored version for China search engine to blacklist information about human rights, democracy, peaceful protest, and religion in accordance with strict rules on censorship in the country that are enforced by its Communist Party government.

The dispute began in August 2018 when reports surfaced that Google staffers working on “Project Dragonfly” had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, according to The Intercept.

Also Read- In the Name of Kabaddi, Punjab Youth Stay Back in Canada

Several Google employees, including former Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, resigned in September, citing lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project.

In December, Google was forced to shut down a data analysis system that it was using to develop the search engine and the teams working on “Project Dragonfly” stopped gathering search queries from mainland China. (IANS)