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Your email provider might be selling your personal data

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Popular email applications like Edison, CleanFox and Slice have been accused of selling information scraped from users’ inboxes without their knowledge.

According to a report from Motherboard, the information collected by Edison was sold to companies involved in different businesses like e-commerce, Finance, travel, and others. Edison, on its homepage, boasts that it offers, “No Ads, Just Mail.”

In most cases, users were not aware that their data was being sold on, showing a worrying lack of clarity across many of the email providers.

Personal Data

The report suggests that many users were not aware of Edison scrapping their data. However, the privacy policy on Edison’s website reads that it does “process” user email data. Apart from this, Edison reportedly also offers products like “Edison Trends” and “Product Trends” which provide deeper behavioural patterns and analysis like purchase metrics, brand loyalty and purchase preferences scrapped from the Edison email app.

Foxintelligence sells similar data scraped from an app called Cleanfox and has brands like Paypal, Bain & Company, and McKinsey & Company as its clients. It’s COO, Florian Cleyet-Merle accepted that it has been collecting user data and states that "From a higher perspective, we believe crowd-sourced transaction data has a transformational power both for consumers and for companies and that a marketplace where value can be created for both sides without making any compromise on privacy is possible."

An app called Slice from Rakuten helps customers track packages and offer price alerts. It was found selling data like the name and brand of the product bought by the use, price, amount paid, and a unique identification number for each buyer. In the case of Slice, users were not aware that the company is selling their data, claimed the research. In fact, the company just last month introduced an ‘opt-out’ mechanism on its website.

Edison, in response to the above report, has responded saying that in order to keep the application free from advertisements, it only extracts anonymous e-commerce related commercial transactions and has a system in place to “ignore personal and work email, which does not help us measure market trends.” 

The company said, “Edison puts privacy first in everything we do as a company and that includes making our users aware of how we use their data in our products. You have complete control over how your information is used and we allow you to opt-out of data sharing in our research product, without impacting your app experience. We strive to be as transparent as possible about our business practices in our press communications, Edison Mail website, Edison Trends website, privacy policy, blog posts, on our app store pages, on social media, and of course, in our app itself. We do not participate in any ad targeting of our users and do not allow others to do ad targeting of our users.”

Via: Vice