In a recent blog post, Suzanne Frey, Google’s Director of Security, Trust, and Privacy, stated, “No one at Google reads your Gmail.” That has been Google’s position on email privacy, at least since it stopped reading your emails and instead served you a steaming, hot portion of personalized ads.
However, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, third-party apps are doing exactly that, right within Gmail. Rather than disputing third-party apps’ access, Google’s blog post defends the practice, stating that it is the individual’s responsibility to keep an email private.
Here’s how to figure out who might be reading your email and deny them access.
How to Modify Your Privacy Preferences
Depending on what you’ve agreed to, a variety of apps could be spying on your email. To get started, follow these steps.
To begin, open Gmail and go to the top right corner of your screen to your profile picture.
The “My Account” link will take you to the “Settings” page.
Look under the “Sign-in & security” column on the left side of the Settings page. Then select “Apps with account access” from the drop-down menu.
A small list of some of the apps that have access to some part of your Google account can be found here. You agreed to all of these apps at some point, though they may or may not apply to your Gmail account. To see the permissions that these apps have, click the “Manage Apps” link.
It will say next to each app in the list which parts of your Google account it has access to. If you have an Android device, you may notice that a number of games and apps require access to your Google Play Account.
It does, however, claim to have “full access to your Google Account,” which includes your Gmail email. That means the apps may be able to scan your emails and take any information they receive, according to Google’s own statements.
Simply click on the app’s name once you’ve figured out who’s been spying on your emails. This will bring up an expanded dialog box with more information about what the app can see. Click “Remove Access” and then “OK” in the next prompt to permanently remove the permissions.
Before proceeding, keep in mind that some applications rely on these permissions to work properly.
Prior to the start of a scandal
It’s difficult not to be concerned about Google’s policies in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Even if the similarities are only superficial, none of us want to put our trust in a company that sells data in a haphazard manner. Google doesn’t appear to be willing to change its mind about how it handles third-party apps just yet, but enough public pressure may persuade it to do so.
Meanwhile, there is a slew of other email clients available that aren’t tied to a larger platform like Gmail. These are a little safer, but in the end, the best way to protect your private emails is to use a strong password.