Updated Jul 8, 2018

The big picture: How tech companies snoop through your messages

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Internet giants are letting software app developers scan through their email users’ inboxes when they’ve signed up for email-based services such as shopping price comparison services, WSJ reports.

Why it matters: The common practice is supposed to make software algorithms better so they can function better for users — but the users don’t appear to be made aware their emails are being read or asked if they would sign off on that in the first place. And companies that have said they’re not using this practice anymore still are.

Gmail said last year it was nixing a similar feature that scanned inboxes to personalize ads to hold "privacy and security paramount" — but it hasn’t followed through.

The details: Return Path, Inc., has computers analyze about 100 million emails per day. People who have accounts with Return Path and who use Microsoft, Yahoo, and Gmail for email are all impacted. Return Path read about 8,000 un-redacted emails for training purposes as well. Edison Software, a Gmail developer, scanned emails in a similar way.

What they're saying: Neither Return Path nor Edison asks users if hey could read emails. Oath said access to email is decided "on a case-by-case basis" and requires "express consent." Microsoft says its terms of use prevent developers from accessing data without consent.

  • Gmail said "before a non-Google app is able to access your data, we show a permissions screen that clearly shows the types of data the app can access and how it can use that data."

Go deeper

Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns

Fine testiying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general, submitted his resignation on Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump removed Fine as the Pentagon's acting inspector general in April 7 after a group of independent federal watchdogs selected him to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was set up to oversee the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 5,534,728 — Total deaths: 347,587 — Total recoveries — 2,260,945Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 1,667,154 — Total deaths: 98,371 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. 2020: Trump pushes for a polarized pandemic election.
  4. States: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says "I can’t for the life of me understand" Trump’s antagonism toward her state — New York reports lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since March.
  5. Public health: The final data for remdesivir is in and its benefits are rather limited.
  6. Education: A closer look at how colleges can reopenNotre Dame president says science alone "cannot provide the answer" to reopening.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

New York reports lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths since March

The number of daily new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in New York was the lowest since the state started its lockdown in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, calling Memorial Day a "pivot point" for New York.

By the numbers: 73 New Yorkers died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 200 people tested positive. Hospitalizations and intubations also decreased.