Third-Party Poopers: Privacy at Gmail

Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the U.S. Congress in 2018 following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. (Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)
  • Emotional wellbeing: likely to cause fear, anger, confusion, and frustration in the event of exposure
  • Financial wellbeing: risk of revealing confidential financial information such as banking details and credit card accounts, and also opens users to the increased cost of credit monitoring or even blackmail
  • Personal data: ranging from the damaging to the embarrassing, e-mail contains photos, correspondence, and other sensitive personal information
  • Physical wellbeing: e-mail likely includes physical location, both permanent and travel tendencies, and could include health information
  • Relationships: exposure of communications could easily damage interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships
  • Societal wellbeing: risk of self-censoring and reduced effectiveness of communication due to the dangers of lowered privacy expectations
  1. Indicate immediately to third-party app developers with access to Gmail that we are reviewing our policies governing their use of Gmail data.
  2. Bring together a cross-functional team to finalize our new policy. For starters, we will propose banning app developers from access to Gmail if the core business model involves selling information gleaned from the content of e-mails, or includes the ability for the third-party to read the contents of an individual’s live e-mails.
  3. Assign the Google Product Policy team to review the data practices of each third-party developer with access to Gmail for compliance with the new policy, notifying those who do not meet the standards.
  4. Give the app developers time — let’s say, 3 months — to come into compliance with our new rule by modifying their business practices, such as exploring paid subscription models instead of selling data, or allowing users to manually upload their e-mails to an external site for processing.
  5. Communicate the change to our users.

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