The search engine giant Google is reportedly allowing third-party developers to scan Gmail accounts despite its assurance to users that the company "keeps their privacy and security paramount".
Google "continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools," a report in Wall Street Journal said on Monday.
Google was yet to comment on the report.
Gmail has nearly 1.4 billion users globally -- more users than the next 25 largest email providers combined.
"Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers-- and, in some cases, employees -- to read their users' emails," the report further stated.
According to Google, it provides data only to outside developers it has vetted and to whom users have explicitly granted permission to access email.
According to the report, Google's own employees read emails only "in very specific cases where you ask us to and give consent, or where we need to for security purposes, such as investigating a bug or abuse".
"Email data collectors use software to scan millions of messages a day, looking for clues about consumers that they can sell to marketers, hedge funds and other businesses," the report added, saying data miners generally have access to other email services besides Gmail.
In 2017, Google said its computers will soon stop reading the emails of its Gmail users to personalise their ads.
The Internet giant recently rolled out new features for Android users to make it easier for them to navigate their Gmail accounts and review security and privacy options.
As part of the new updates, Google introduced a new search functionality that enables users to find settings and other info they might be looking for in their account, like how to change the password.
(With inputs from agencies)