Says devs have to first obtain consent from users

Sep 20, 2018 20:01 GMT  ·  By  ·  Comment  · 
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Susan Molinari, Google VP for government affairs and public policy acknowledged that app developers have access to Gmail data even though Google has stopped scanning e-mails, in response to a letter sent in July by John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Senate Republicans Roger Wicker and Jerry Moran.

However, according to Molinari, developers are given access to scan e-mail data only after informing the user via a privacy policy of how the data they share with third parties is going to be used and after obtaining user consent.

"Our verification process described above reviews the privacy policy and works to ensure that developers’ requests for access to user data make sense in light of those disclosures," said Molinari in her letter. "As illustrated in the consent screens above, we make the privacy policy easily accessible to users to review before deciding whether to grant access."

Molinari also stated that Google would investigate any instances when applications with access to Gmail users' data show anomalous behavior, suspending the ones found to misbehave and sending warnings to users to revoke the guilty apps' access to their data.

As further detailed in her letter, all apps that require access to Gmail data have to go through a verification process described at http://developers.google.com/apps-script/guides/client-verification, which also includes a manual review of the app's privacy policy.

Application developers who want to access Gmail data have to go through Google's manual privacy policy review process

Furthermore, all apps not verified by Google are tagged as "unverified apps," and users are warned not to give them access to their data. As an extra measure, all unverified apps can be installed by up to 100 users until they pass Google's vetting process.

This response comes after last year's Google statement which said that the search giant has stopped scanning their users' Gmail accounts to make their ad targeting service better.

Google's CEO Larry Page did not appear in front of the Senate's Intelligence Committee for a hearing on “Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms,” the company choosing to send in a written testimony instead.

The Commerce Committee will hold hearings on Wednesday, September 26, when privacy representatives from tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Charter Communications, and AT&T will have to answer questions regarding their companies safeguards to consumer privacy.

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