Google says it's not reading your Gmail, except when it does...

Google was hauled over the coals this week for reportedly giving hundreds of app makers access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users.

The Wall Street Journal reported that users who signed up for "email-based services" like "shopping price comparisons," and "automated travel-itinerary planners" were most at risk of having their private messages read.

In response to the story, Google published a blog on Tuesday detailing how third-party developers have to go through an involved review process before they are given access to Gmail.

Suzanne Frey, Google Cloud's director of security, trust, and privacy, also said that Gmail's 1.4 billion users hold the keys to their own data and can control permissions.

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In the same piece, Frey was at pains to point out that Google itself does not read user emails.

Gmail automatically processes emails to filter out spam and phishing messages, which Frey said had "caused some to speculate mistakenly that Google 'reads' your emails."

"To be absolutely clear: No one at Google reads your Gmail," she added, before immediately listing the times Google does allow itself to have a peek at your inbox.

Frey said it is limited to "very specific cases." These include when users give Google permission to access their messages, and when the company needs to investigate a security issue, such as a bug or "abuse."

She did not offer more detail than this, however, meaning it's not clear whether Google has the power to probe Gmail problems without notifying a user. Business Insider contacted Google for comment.

Frey concluded: "The work of privacy and security is never done, and we’re always looking for ways to better protect our users."

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Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai attends a session of the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Google's CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during a conference tagged 'Google for Nigeria' in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Google Inc CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a launch event in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers his keynote address during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President for Products, delivers his keynote address during the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, California May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of products, speaks during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona March 2, 2015. Ninety thousand executives, marketers and reporters gather in Barcelona this week for the telecom operators Mobile World Congress, the largest annual trade show for the global wireless industry. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS)
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Google Chrome, speaks during Google I/O Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)
Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, speaks about wearables during his keynote address at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google, discusses recent advancements and changes to Chrome during the keynote address at the Google I/O Developers Conference in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCI TECH BUSINESS)
WUZHEN, CHINA - DECEMBER 03: Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during the 4th World Internet Conference on December 3, 2017 in Wuzhen, China. The 4th World Internet Conference - Wuzhen Summit themed with 'Developing digital economy for openness and shared benefits -- building a community of common future in cyberspace.' is held from Dec 3 to 5 in Wuzhen of Zhejiang. (Photo by Du Yang/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)
WUZHEN, CHINA - DECEMBER 03: Google CEO Sundar Pichai attends the opening ceremony of the 4th World Internet Conference on December 3, 2017 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province of China. The 4th World Internet Conference - Wuzhen Summit themed with 'Developing digital economy for openness and shared benefits -- building a community of common future in cyberspace.' is held from Dec 3 to 5 in Wuzhen of Zhejiang. (Photo by VCG via Getty Images)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Google's artificial intelligence-based voice Assistant is on more than 100 million devices now, and the company is leveraging a longtime competitor to expand the technology to even more people.�Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - MAY 17: Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the Google I/O 2017 Conference at Shoreline Amphitheater on May 17, 2017 in Mountain View, California. The three-day conference will highlight innovations including Google Assistant. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA JANUARY 4: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Digital Unlocked Google event at Taj palace on January 4, 2017 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)
KHARAGPUR, INDIA - JANUARY 5: Google CEO Sundar Pichai interacts with students at IIT Kharagpur campus on January 5, 2017 in Kharagpur, India. For Pichai, it was an emotional homecoming, his first visit to his alma mater since he graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1993. (Photo by Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA JANUARY 4: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Digital Unlocked Google event at Taj palace on January 4, 2017 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)
KHARAGPUR, INDIA - JANUARY 5: Google CEO Sundar Pichai interacts with students at IIT Kharagpur campus on January 5, 2017 in Kharagpur, India. For Pichai, it was an emotional homecoming, his first visit to his alma mater since he graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1993. (Photo by Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during the company's Cloud Next '17 event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The Cloud Next conference brings together industry experts to discuss the future of cloud computing. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Google Inc CEO, Sundar Pichai (C) talks to a group of woman known as 'Internet Sathis' who learn mobile internet from Google and then teach other villagers, in Gokulpur village some 140 kms west of Kolkata on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Chandan KHANNA (Photo credit should read CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images)
CEO of Google Inc. Sundar Pichai looks on as he attends a meeting about partnering with small business in New Delhi on January 4, 2017. / AFP / Dominique Faget (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai gestures as he addresses students during a forum at The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur in Kharagpur, some 120kms west of Kolkata on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Chandan KHANNA (Photo credit should read CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Google expects to have a dedicated cloud region for India later this year, Pichai said. Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Google Inc CEO, Sundar Pichai (C) talks to a group of woman known as 'Internet Sathis' who learn mobile internet from Google and then teach other villagers, in Gokulpur village some 140 kms west of Kolkata on January 5, 2017. / AFP / Chandan KHANNA (Photo credit should read CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a visit to Argyle Primary School, in London, alongside Minister for Digital Policy Matt Hancock, as Google announced plans to bring VR technology to one million schoolchildren in the UK as part of a new learning initiative. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during an event at Google's Kings Cross office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. After being criticized for not paying its fair share of British tax, Alphabet Inc.s Google unit is trying to show its a good corporate citizen by offering five hours of free digital skills training to all U.K. residents. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during an event at Google's Kings Cross office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. After being criticized for not paying its fair share of British tax, Alphabet Inc.s Google unit is trying to show its a good corporate citizen by offering five hours of free digital skills training to all U.K. residents. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., pauses during an event at Google's Kings Cross office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. After being criticized for not paying its fair share of British tax, Alphabet Inc.s Google unit is trying to show its a good corporate citizen by offering five hours of free digital skills training to all U.K. residents. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., listens to a speaker during an event at Google's Kings Cross office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. After being criticized for not paying its fair share of British tax, Alphabet Inc.s Google unit is trying to show its a good corporate citizen by offering five hours of free digital skills training to all U.K. residents. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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