Gmail for Android
Google apps are shown on an Apple iphone 5 in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California, April 16, 2013.REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

After a major newspaper reported this week that third-party software developers can scan and read even personal Gmail messages, it stirred up confusion among loyal users of the email client.

In hopes to clear the air, Google on Tuesday, July 3 published a post in its corporate blog explaining the procedure before non-Google software developers get general access to user data.

"We continuously work to vet developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before we open them for general access, and we give both enterprise admins and individual consumers transparency and control over how their data is used," wrote Suzanne Frey, the director of Security, Trust, and Privacy division of Google Cloud.

Frey noted the Gmail integration with email clients, trip planners, and customer relationship management services give Gmail users more ways to access and use their emails.

"A vibrant ecosystem of non-Google apps gives you choice and helps you get the most out of your email."

Vetting Process

But before these third-party app developers can access Gmail messages, Google will subject them to multiple levels of an automated and manual review process, examination of the app's privacy policy and homepage, and in-app testing to make sure the app works, Frey explained.

As early as the review phase, non-Google app developers are required to (1) accurately represent themselves and (2) only request relevant data. As Frey wrote, the commonality between these two requirements is to "be clear about how they are using it." Violators will be subject for suspension.

User Control

Before non-Google apps can take advantage of Gmail users, it all starts with permissions and control on the end user. Frey urged users to read carefully the permission request of third-party apps as well as the type of data they are going to access.

Gmail permision request sample
A sample permission request from a third-party developer.Google

"We strongly encourage you to review the permissions screen before granting access to any non-Google application.

Is Google Reading Your Emails?

Frey also addressed a couple of misconceptions on how Google handles Gmail messages.

"We do not process email content to serve ads, and we are not compensated by developers for API access. We do show ads in consumer Gmail, but those ads are not based on the content of your emails," Frey said.

As to question if Google "reads" emails, Frey said:

"To be absolutely clear: no one at Google reads your Gmail, except 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."