Monday, 01 July 2019 11:38

Third-party apps will be blocked from Gmail data on 15 July

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Third-party apps will be blocked from Gmail data on 15 July Image by gabrielle_cc from Pixabay

Many apps that have had access to Gmail data will find their access blocked soon as Google locks down API access, with the cut off date being 15 July. The new API policy was announced in October last year.

The verification process for apps began in January and ended last week. Apps that have been verified by Google will now have to face a security assessment that costs anything from US$15,000 to US$75,000 each year, Julia Furkulitsa, a member of the team that produces the app Clean Email, told iTWire. This assessment will be needed for any app that stores Gmail data on a third-party server.

Third-party apps have been interacting with Gmail for a long time using the OAuth APIs, seeking permission from users to do so. But with the new changes in place, Google will decide for what uses an app can access Gmail data.

"We believe that this will destroy the development community Google has been building around their APIs," Furkulitsa said.

"A US$15,000 'entry fee' will mean that fewer developers will be starting their businesses around Gmail and the indie market will simply die."

But later Furkulitsa's tone seemed to change somewhat, possibly because Clean Email was given a discount on the security assessment charges. "We welcome Google's move – they are doing their best to balance between comfort and security of their users and an ecosystem they created," she said.

"It's also obviously conveniently aligned with their business interests. We created Clean Email with the same idea in mind – it was never our intention (nor our business model) to make money off of users' data, the honest 'money for service' transaction always felt right."

Furkulitsa said as far as Google's new policies for third-party apps was concerned, the company was being very flexible and ensuring developers had enough time to undergo the verification and assessment.

"Our experience with the security companies also shows their desire to work with companies and teams of any size – we can't disclose what exactly we're paying for the assessment, but the discount we've received shows that they realise challenges of a small business. All in all, we think that Google is truly making sure that legitimate businesses and products stay on the platform."

Furkulitsa said Google's verification process was very meticulous and consisted of multiple stages.

"During the verification process, they checked our terms of service and privacy policy (and requested modifications), requested an explanation for every action we take on users' emails, a video walkthrough of the application, and actually used the application to double check.

"There's absolutely no way for a company engaged in collecting user data to pass verification at this stage. The apps that haven't complied with the new policies will no longer work starting 15 July."

A similar change will come in for Google Drive accounts next year.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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