Why email providers scan your emails
“From a technical point of view, there are no obstacles” for companies who want to read consumer emails, says Gustaf Björksten, chief technologist at the nonprofit Access Now.
Corporate privacy policies can spell out when and why email providers would do this, and some also have codes of conduct, such as Microsoft’s Standards of Business Conduct and Google’s Code of Conduct. Yet Björksten says privacy policies are not foolproof. “There is all the potential for human abuse. Humans are deeply, fundamentally flawed, and we know that when humans have access to private information, they will at least sometimes be looking at it when they shouldn’t be looking at it.
For example, a widely reported legal settlement by Apple in 2021 stemmed from a 2016 incident in which a woman sent her iPhone for repair and technicians from an Apple-approved contract facility posted her explicit photos and videos. online.
“When we learned of this blatant violation of our policies at one of our vendors in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our vendor protocols,” Apple told Consumer Reports.
And in 2019, two former Twitter employees were accused of accessing private messages and other information as foreign agents for Saudi Arabia, court documents show.
So if you want to prevent companies from even being able to read your messages, analyze them or share them with third parties, the best way to do that is to use a tool specifically described as “end-to-end encrypted”, such as Signal , so that even the provider cannot access it.