CEO of Unroll.me doesn't feel bad about selling user data to Uber

by Lucia Danes - -

Users who have been using Unroll.me service might be taken aback to find out what methods Unrollme Inc. company used to monetize their free service. The email management tool is known for its ability to scan email accounts in order to provide the user with a list of subscriptions and allow to unsubscribe from them. According to the company, it delivers a whole new email experience without any junk mail. However, recent reveal by The New York Times[1] shows that this company wasn’t so immaculate. It turns out that Unrollme Inc. deliberately collects certain data from email accounts and then sells anonymized data to other businesses, for example, Uber. According to a post by The New York Times, Uber has put a lot of effort one-upping its rivals, one of them being Lyft. It turns out that Uber bought data from analytics service titled Slice Intelligence, which owns Unroll.me. The analytics service collected Lyft’s receipts from user email folders, anonymized them and sold to Uber.

Unroll.me sells user data to Uber

Following the reveal, Jojo Hedaya, who is CEO of Unroll.me, decided to publish an apology[2]. The head of the company that has access to thousand of email accounts states that it “was heartbreaking” to see that their activity did upset some users, however, the tone of the message shows that he does not feel guilty about selling user data at all. Instead, Jojo Hedaya “feels that the company wasn’t explicit enough” and promises to be more open about user data collection and usage, however, comments below the announcement called “We Can Do Better” show that users are extremely angry. They reprehend company’s activity and share doubts regarding Unroll.me’s claims that data collected about them was anonymized. One after another, users promise to revoke Unroll.me access to their email accounts, asking the company to delete their data right away[3].

The CEO of the email management system has, in fact, mentioned one important thing in the blog post – before signing up for the service, all users have to agree that they have read and understood Terms of Service and Privacy Policy documents. Despite that, people tend to express their agreement without actually reading these documents[4]. It is true that people are unwilling to dedicate time for reading these legal notices, although these provide a lot of important information, such as how the company collects and uses user data. We must say that unwillingness to read these documents is what makes users install shady programs and agree to sign up for vague online services. It seems that Jojo did not feel the need to say sorry for data collection practices because the company discloses them in the Privacy Policy; however, such behavior clearly won’t do any good for the company. Lack of transparency[5] has completely ruined its image already.

About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

Lucia is a News Editor for 2spyware. She has a long experience working in malware and technology fields.

Contact Lucia Danes
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