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Your email provider might be selling your personal data

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Editor's Note: The CEO of Foxintelligence Edouard Nattée has reached out to TechRadar Pro with a statement on the matter, saying:

For several days, our Cleanfox app has been the subject of unfounded accusations in the press which have damaged the reputation of our company. Not only are these accusations false and akin to defamation, but they are also at odds with our beliefs and our commitments to the protection of privacy.

Since the very creation of Foxintelligence, we have chosen to be even more demanding than what is required by the General Regulations on the Protection of Personal Data (GDPR):

  • We have always been completely transparent on the business model of Cleanfox and Foxintelligence. Nothing is hidden in illegible pages like Privacy Policy or Terms of Use. On the contrary, the business model is clearly and simply indicated when the user gives us his consent.
  • We are also committed to never resell the personal data of our users, not to participate in any advertising targeting device and not to cause any harm to our users. Foxintelligence creates and resells anonymized and aggregated statistics, like any survey institute does.
  • We believe in a model in which the service is free and the user is not the product.

It is for these reasons that we strongly reject the recent accusations that Cleanfox sells user data to third-party companies. This is false and defamatory.

We also reject accusations that we are not transparent with our users. A simple visit to our website allows you to realize this.

Total transparency with our users

Before the user connects to Cleanfox, we detail in black and white our commitment to never sell any personal data to third parties and only to market statistics based on anonymized and aggregated data.

Privacy Policy

All this is then detailed in an intelligible and simple way in our privacy policy, in our FAQ and on the pages of the Play Store and the Apple Store. (Image credit: Foxintelligence)

Foxintelligence and Cleanfox have never sold and will never sell personal data to third-parties

Cleanfox is a free service. Foxintelligence sells statistics such as the estimation of turnover of e-commerce platforms or the growth rate of online sales.

To produce these statistics, we anonymize and aggregate order confirmation emails (e-receipts). These statistics are in no way user profiling, they do not allow any kind of reconciliation with a user of our app.

The cases of data that would be “de-anonymized” mentioned by certain articles, are related to a practice we’ve always refuse to follow: the pseudonymization of data, that is to say, assigning a unique identifier to each user. It is therefore impossible to link Foxintelligence statistics to any user.

We do not sell any data that will be used for advertising targeting purposes

Unlike most online services or social media, Foxintelligence does not sell the personal data of its users. Foxintelligence's business model is in no way linked to advertising. Thus, if you use Cleanfox, you will never subsequently be the subject of targeted or non-targeted advertisements from third-party companies because of your registration with Cleanfox. 

[Original article continues below]

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