Google about to restrict third-party integration of calendars, contacts, and Drive
- The future of Google calendar and contacts integration into the mailbox.org Office is unclear
- Access to Gmail e-mails should continue to work as usual from the mailbox.org Office
Some of our customers use a feature of the mailbox.org Office that allows them to access calendars, contacts, or files that are stored with and managed by Google. This feature can be provided by us because Google enables third-party providers like ourselves to integrate the related data sources through a special programming interface. Currently, this “Google API” facilitates authorized access to various Google services in a simple, straightforward way.
A new need for costly and non-transparent certifications
Google has recently announced plans to restrict service integration features in the future. For third-party providers to be able to continue to access the services, they will then be asked to go through an elaborate and expensive certification process, conducted by an American service provider, selected by Google.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with trying to minimize fraud by identifying dubious firms and excluding them from accessing Google services. However, the framework under which the required certification is to take place is not at all transparent: To receive the certification, Google demands that we as a business agree to a deep screen procedure, carried out by an American company that is closely associated with Google.
Aside from the obvious issues with respect to the technical facilitation, adherence to competition law, as well as data protection, there is also a financial side to the certification, and this appears to be designed to systematically exclude smaller competitors. Each certification attempt incurs a cost of between 15.000 and 75.000 USD, irrespective of the result. And that‘s not the end of it: Every future change at mailbox.org may require us to go through the whole process again. So, introducing a new feature or software version may result in Google demanding an expensive re-certification. Since we are improving mailbox.org all the time, this presents an impossible situation for us to be in.
After careful consideration of the facts, we decided not to pursue Google certification. The effort and expenditure is not justifiable, and we also feel that Google demands unduly deep insight into our infrastructure.
After all, part of our mission at mailbox.org is to provide a secure, data-protection-focused alternative to Google. Under the proposed conditions, it would be absurd for us to pay what could be six-figure sums to Google and its certification partners just to enable our customers to continue hosting their data with them.
What is going to change for mailbox.org customers who use Google services?
To be very clear: Nothing will change for anyone who does not have their Google services integrated at mailbox.org.
Those who access Google services through our platform still have some time, as it is currently unclear how exactly Google is going to restrict access to its services in the future. There have been different statements about the time frame, but we are expecting changes to materialize at some point between January and March 2020.
There is a strong possibility that the initial impact will be limited to the display of warning messages, with the services otherwise fully working on our platform. These messages will probably say that mailbox.org is not certified and announce that external access to the services will be restricted from a later date. We believe that direct integration of Google calendars and contacts at mailbox.org will no longer work from that point forward.
However, access to e-mails at GMail should continue to work without problems. E-mails are integrated on the basis of the IMAP protocol only, which is independent of the Google API. As a result, mailbox.org appears to Google's mail service like an ordinary e-mail client.
For some, now might be a good opportunity to move away from Google and transfer your data to mailbox.org. For an easy and fuzz-free move, our data migration partner Audriga can help you. Alternatively, you can transfer your data manually. Our knowledge base has a step-by-step guide on how to move calendars, contacts, and e-mails from Google to mailbox.org.
Thank you for your understanding,
Your mailbox.org team