Google says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data

Google says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data
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Google said in a letter to senators that it still allows app developers to scan and share data from users' Gmail accounts.

The letter, which was sent in July in response to questions posed by top Senate Republicans about potential misuse of information in user emails, said that while Google stopped scanning emails for ad targeting, developers still have access to accounts. Google released the email to the public on Thursday.

Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Americas, explained that access is restricted.

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“Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data,” she wrote in the letter.

The letter, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, also included details on how third-party email apps are vetted, including reviewing privacy policies and monitoring app behavior changes.

Privacy officials from Google, as well as Apple, Amazon, Twitter, AT&T and Charter Communications, are due to speak in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Google had previously declined to send CEO Larry Page to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing earlier this month.

Asked for comment, a Google spokesperson referred The Hill to a blog post from July outlining the company's policies on Gmail data sharing.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOn The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump Senators dumbfounded by Trump vow to shut down government The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe MORE (R-S.D.), Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerAlmost half of US residents don't use broadband internet: study Afghanistan war at a stalemate, top general tells lawmakers Grassley open to legislation making it tougher for Trump to impose tariffs on national security grounds MORE (R-Miss.) and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Overnight Defense: Senate rebukes Trump with Yemen vote | Mattis, Pompeo briefing fails to quell Senate concerns with Saudis | Graham demands CIA briefing on Khashoggi | Pentagon identifies three troops killed in Afghanistan McConnell, Flake clash over protecting Mueller probe MORE (R-Kan.) had sent a letter expressing concern over data abuse to Google in July. 

“Furthermore, though no allegations of misuse of personal email data akin to the Cambridge Analytica case have surfaced, the reported lack of oversight from Google to ensure that Gmail data is properly safeguarded is cause for concern," they wrote.

The Cambridge Analytica case, in which a political consulting firm improperly obtained 87 million Facebook users’ data, has been one of the main drivers of concern from the Commerce Committee related to data use.

The letter also questioned how Google would handle third parties, pushing the company to explain what safeguards it implements to ensure personal email content isn't exposed.

Molinari Response to Thune-Wicker-Moran Letter Re WSJ Article by blc88 on Scribd