Top Republicans in the House of Representatives are questioning Alphabet's CEO Larry Page over the access that third-parties have to user email. This comes after news broke last week that Gmail allowed third-party developers to read your email. This is something that Google has denied doing, but it's not keeping Congress from getting involved, as expected. House Republicans have also checked in with Apple's CEO Tim Cook about the data that third-party developers might be able to get from the App Store. Finally, there were also questions about whether smartphones were able to listen in on users. Something it also asked Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg when he testified before Congress a few months ago.
The letter that was sent to Larry Page was questioning Google's announcement from last week that it would stop scanning Gmail, in order to prioritize and preserve user safety and privacy. In the letter, Republicans wrote "reports surfaced that in spite of this policy change, Google still permitted third parties to access the contents of users' emails, including message text, email signatures, and receipt data, to personalize content. In the context of free services offered by third parties, these practices raise questions about how representations made by a platform are carried out in practice." So it's clear that Congress wants to make sure that Google is sticking to its word and putting privacy first.
In 2018, the top tech companies in Silicon Valley have had a rough time with data breaches. And it really all started with Facebook and its Cambridge Analytica scandal. Which while Cambridge Analytica didn't actually do anything wrong – per Facebook's terms and conditions – it was still pretty scary that Facebook was able to give that kind of information away without much consent from the user. Now the fact that Google gives third-party developers access to read your email, is definitely not sitting well with many people. Particularly because email is more private than your Facebook page. So it'll be interesting to see whether Alphabet, or Google's CEO ends up coming to Washington DC to testify in front of Congress in the near future.