However, new information surfaced in a report by The Wall Street Journal, that this practice is not only continuing, but emails are also read by employees of various third party app developers.
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 stated.
These IT employees are permitted to use systems or even other workers to read user emails. Wired editor-in-chief and CBS News contributor Nicholas Thompson joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss whether this is similar to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal and what Google needs to do to make privacy settings clearer. Computers normally do the scanning, analyzing about 100 million emails a day.
Nearly exactly a year ago, Google promised to stop scanning your inbox to serve up ads in Gmail, but as the Journal's article details, executives of the vetted third-party companies claimed that their employees would read millions of emails and that it was "common practice". At one point about two years ago, Return Path employees read about 8,000 unredacted emails to help train the company's software, people familiar with the episode say. It added that its own employees may read emails but only 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".
Google, however, has denied privacy violations, stating data is provided to vetted third-party developers only and with the users' explicit consent.
While messages are typically processed by computer algorithms, the newspaper spoke to several companies where employees had read "thousands" of email messages.
The opt-in notification users receive.
Now You: Do you permit third-party apps access to important data?
One is Return Path, an app that collects data for marketers from users' inboxes. Developers swear that manual access is used only оn rare and special occasions and is exclusively to improve customer experience, but we've heard that reasoning enough times to know it's just something PR representatives are forced to say.