Tech Thursday: Google responds to concerns over third party apps accessing your Gmail

You might have noticed that a lot of apps allow you to sign in using your Gmail account. Once you give them permission to sign in, they have access to certain information depending on how much access you give them. The Internet giant said that it vets app developers rigorously with strict control over what access they have on your Gmail.

This comes after an article published in The Wall Street Journal claimed that app developers are sifting through people’s Gmails scanning the inboxes of Gmail users for information to personalize advertisements.

Suzanne Frey, Director, Security, Trust and Privacy, Google Cloud said in a blog post statement:

“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. We continuously work to vet developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before we open them for general access, and we give both enterprise admins and individual consumer’s transparency and control over how their data is used.


“Keeping your data secure is our top priority, so we want to provide you with details about our vetting process and user controls for both enterprise and consumer accounts:”

Frey said that in order for non-Google apps to pass their review process, they must meet two key requirements:

  • That they accurately represent themselves: Apps should not misrepresent their identity and must be clear about how they are using your data. Apps cannot pose as one thing and do another and must have clear and prominent privacy disclosures.
  • That they only request relevant data: Apps should ask only for the data they need for their specific function—nothing more—and be clear about how they are using it.

They said that they review non-Google applications to make sure they continue to meet their policies, and suspend them when they are aware that they do not.

In addition, Google has data controls that you can use at any time to manage your information. For example, the Security Checkup shows all non-Google apps that have access to your data and flags potentially risky apps so you can revoke any previously-granted permissions that you are no longer comfortable with. You can also view and control permissions within under “Apps with account access.”

How do you check your Gmail Security Features?

You can visit the Security Checkup to review what permissions you have granted to non-Google apps, and revoke them if you would like. For G Suite users, admins can control which non-Google apps can access their users’ data through whitelisting.

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