This week The Wall Street Journal reported on app developers having access to peopleâ€™s email accounts and how these developers were using this access to read emails. While developers reportedly removed identifying information before emails were read, the realization that developers were accessing othersâ€™ emails was unwelcome news to many.
Why App Developers Have Access to Email
App developers gain access to your emails when you use an app with your email service and you give that developer permission to access your email account. Some examples of apps that work with emails are Unroll.me, Slice, Boomerang and HubSpot.
None of those developers were mentioned in The Wall Street Journal article. The article specifically covered developers Return Path and Edison and stated, â€œThere is no indication that Return Path, Edison or other developers of Gmail add-ons have misused data in that fashion.â€
These apps perform tasks such as organizing email messages, tracking shipping of purchases, scheduling email messages to be sent later and giving the sender information about when an email is opened. These services can be useful to help manage email better and The Wonder of Tech has reviewed many of these services.
For these apps to work, they need to have access to emails. For example, with Slice, emails are reviewed to determine whether they are confirmation of an online purchase so shipping of the package can be tracked.
When a user signs up for these apps, permission must be given for the app to have access to emails. Otherwise the apps canâ€™t perform their functions.
The Wall Street Journal report found that some of the app developers reviewed emails to determine whether the emails were being analyzed correctly in order to for the apps to perform the necessary tasks.
How to See Which Apps Have Access to Your Email Account
By taking a few minutes to review your email permissions, you can see which apps have access to your account. If the app is no longer useful to you, then you should revoke your permission for the app to access your email. You should consider your need for email privacy versus the usefulness of the apps.
As we learned with Facebook, restricting permission for apps limits access to your information and reduces the potential that developers may use information in ways that were unanticipated.
The Wall Street Journal focused on Gmail accounts, stating that â€œNearly two-thirds of all active email users globally have a Gmail account, according to comScore, and Gmail has more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.â€
The article also mentionedÂ that app developers also have access to email accounts the next two largest email providers, Microsoft and Verizon, the owner of Yahoo and AOL email services.
To review which apps have access to your Gmail account, head to the Google My Account page and start a Security Checkup by clicking Get Started.
On the next screen, click Third-party access to review which apps have permission to access your Gmail account.
Click Remove Access to revoke permission to any apps you arenâ€™t using.
Click on the iÂ next to each app to learn more about the permission youâ€™ve given to the app.
Note => while youâ€™re doing a security checkup, be sure to add Two-Step Verification if you havenâ€™t already done so, to increase the security of your account.
Review which apps have access to your email accounts. If you donâ€™t recognize an app, or if an app is no longer useful to you, be sure to revoke access. You can always grant it again later if you find you need it.
Other Email Accounts
If you use an email provider other than Gmail, you should still check app permissions for your account.
For Microsoft, go to Microsoft Apps Permissions Page
For Yahoo go to Yahoo Help Remove Permissions page.
For AOL go to the AOL Help Page â€” Find And Remove Unusual Activity from Your Account page.
For other email providers, search for â€œremove app permissionsâ€ and the name of the email provider to find the web page where you can review app permissions for your email account.
Do you use third-party apps with your email account? Are you concerned about developers having access to your email messages? Have you checked to see which apps have permission to access your email account?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!