WSJ exposes a major privacy issue with Google's Gmail service. Last year, the search giant promised to stop scanning inboxes of Gmail users for data to personalize ads, but now it appears that third-party software developers still have access to the contents of Gmail e-mails.
Hundreds of software developers have access to these information, but only from the millions of Gmail users that signed up for e-mail based services like price comparison services, travel-itinerary planners, or other tools. Most of the mails get read by computer algorithms, but some developers train workers to read their these mails. Here's an interesting snippet from the story:
One of those companies is Return Path Inc., which collects data for marketers by scanning the inboxes of more than two million people who have signed up for one of the free apps in Return Path’s partner network using a Gmail, Microsoft Corp. or Yahoo email address. Computers normally do the scanning, analyzing about 100 million emails a day. At one point about two years ago, Return Path workers read about 8,000 unredacted emails to help train the company’s software, people familiar with the episode say.