A report out of Motherboard has confirmed that several email apps available on iOS and Mac have been quietly scraping user’s emails and selling the data on to third-party companies. It’s rather sneaky and more than a little underhanded.
For those of you maybe not in the know, data scraping has been a big concern in the world of online privacy for some time now. The process is as simple as it sounds: Computers trawl through copious amounts of data, emails in this case, and extract any useful information that may be important to anyone looking at gaining insight into a specific market. It’s not illegal but it is very shady especially when apps don’t tell users that they’re doing it. Which is the case with Edison, Cleanfox and Slice. All email apps on iOS and Mac that have just been caught scraping emails for information and selling it off.
Edison, which is within the top 100 productivity apps on the Apple app store has been selling data gathered from user’s emails to clients in financial, travel and e-commerce industries. This is all according to an in-depth report published by Motherboard with information sourced from “confidential sources”. Edison’s website states that privacy is of the utmost importance to the app and while it does say the app “processes” emails there’s nothing about selling data off to third-parties.
The document sourced by Motherboard states that the information gathered by Edison includes, “consumer purchase metrics including brand loyalty, wallet share, purchase preferences, etc”. What’s even creepier is that Edison has recently made a big deal out the implementation of features such as package tracking and price tracking, both of which could potentially be provide some personal as well as industrial information.
Cleanfox, an app designed to help users clean and organise their inboxes, has also been incriminated as selling user’s data. In a statement provided to Motherboard, Florian Cleyet-Merle, COO of Foxintelligence, owners of Cleanfox, said “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.”
Following the report, Edison responded to the claims that their transparency regarding the implementation of data scraping had been lacking. The statement essentially comes down to, “Yes, we do it. We need to do it to make money so there won’t be ads. You can control if we do it, here’s how. Sorry about the confusion.”
To read the full report on the matter, check out it here.