Reading lengthy terms of service agreements or privacy policies put a damper on the instant gratification in today's digital age. You may want to start reading them soon because not reading the app's policies might be exactly what the company is betting on.
Google caters to over one billion users around the world. The users who are eager to take advantage of new features like trip planning or auto-reply are some of the individuals who Google might be compromising.
In a letter to US senators, Google admitted that they let some third-party apps scan your emails.
"Developers may share data with third parties as long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data," Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy and government affairs at Google said in the letter.
Of course, apps do signal their intentions with their privacy policies. The information is buried deep in those pesky terms of service agreements that companies hope you're not reading.
For instance, before GDPR on average privacy policies were about eight pages long, took 20 minutes to read, and required a GED or equivalent to understand.
As a whole, privacy policies didn't change much after GDPR. On average they run about 7 pages, take about 17 minutes to read, and require a GED or equivalent to understand.
Molinari said developers with access to Gmail data have to adhere to Google's User Data Policy and API Terms of Service.
"If your application requests data for one reason but the data will also be utilized for a secondary purpose, you must notify Google users of both use cases," the User Data Policy reads. "As a general matter, users should be able to readily understand the value of providing the data that your application requests, as well as the consequences of sharing that data with your application."
Apps are reviewed periodically by Google to ensure that they're operating up to code. Google suspends apps that fall out of compliance.
While Google doesn't offer options to opt out of third-party apps scanning your email (other than deleting the app). Users will be warned if they're about to download an app that hasn't been verified by Google.
In a time when privacy seems easily compromisable, it might be worth taking an afternoon to read the fine print of all your apps' privacy policies.
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- Google admitted in a letter to US Senators that it lets third-party apps scan user emails to collect data.
- Google said users consent to the scan in lengthy, hard to understand privacy policies. The only stipulation for apps to gain entry is the promise to be transparent with Google about plans for the data.
- Google to improve Chrome extension security with new add-on rules
- Google Photos app launches new editing features and Live Albums
- Google to improve Android privacy with better user control of app permissions
- How to protect your Facebook privacy by removing unwanted apps
- Tech companies really don't want a US version of Europe's privacy law (CNET)
- Rushed privacy features result in sloppy security (ZDNet)
- Top 5: Ways to protect your privacy (TechRepublic)