Google admits it lets hundreds of other companies access your Gmail inbox

The Google logo is shown reflected on an adjacent office building in Irvine California

The company detailed how app developers can read your emails letter to US senators Credit Mike Blake Reuters

"Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data", Molinari wrote. Those tasks naturally require some automated processing of people's emails, but the Wall Street Journal previously reported that many email service companies have humans read emails to train and debug their algorithms.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Journal there was "simply no way that Gmail users could imagine that their personal data would be transferred to third parties", and the revelation showed that the "privacy policy model is simply broken beyond fix". For instance, a trip-planning app may scan a users' email for upcoming flight details and then use the data to query an airline for updated departure information.

This is different than scanning Gmail for data to be used for ad targeting, a practice that Google put a halt to previous year.

However, Google has told lawmakers that the company has protections in place to prevent potential abuse.

After facing a backlash over reports in July that third-party app developers can read your Gmail, Google has once again defended its policy to allow third-party apps to access and share data from Gmail accounts.

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These days, Google displays an "unverified app" warning for all apps that haven't been verified -- a change it introduce after someone previous year tricked millions of Gmail users into granting access to a bogus Google Docs apps.

Google also makes "the privacy policy easily accessible to users to review before deciding whether to grant access", said Susan Molinari, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Americas at Google, in the letter. It furthermore claims that the collection policies of the app makers must be completely transparent and the software must first ask the user for permission to collect the data.

Molinari also addressed whether Google employees ever peek into your inbox.

Google made no comment to CNN but referred them to a blog post in which it explains the review process, automatic and manual safeguarding, app testing and assessment of policy.

Google and other tech companies are set to face the Senate next week in a hearing over data privacy.

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