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Unroll.me users are furious after finding out their private data was sold to Uber

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Unroll.me was caught selling Lyft receipts to Uber.

The CEO of email decluttering service Unroll.me says he is heartbroken that his customer didn’t know their private data was being sold off to third parties.

The service, which allows users to delete email subscription en masse, has been collecting and selling off its user’s sensitive information, according to a report from the New York Times. It skims through its customer’s emails, collects private data, makes it anonymous, and puts it up for purchase. Unroll.me is even said to have collected email receipts from Lyft and sold them off to Uber. It confirmed that it collects both Uber and Lyft receipt data, but didn’t say who it sells that information to, according to Business Insider.

Users are not responding well to the revelation, even if the signs were all there. Back in 2014, Unroll.me was purchased by analytics company Slice Intelligence, which gets its money from selling customer data to other companies. Then there is Unroll.me’s privacy policy, which states, “We also collect non-personal information—data in a form that does not permit direct association with any specific individual. We may collect, use, transfer, sell, and disclose non-personal information for any purpose.”

The company’s CEO wrote an apology letter titled “We Can Do Better” to his customers, claiming the terms were not “explicit enough.”

“Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.”

CEO Jojo Hedaya follows this up with another not-so-sympathetic statement.

“Sure we have a Terms of Service Agreement and a plain-English Privacy Policy that our users agree they have read and understand before they even sign up, but the reality is most of us—myself included—don’t take the time to thoroughly review them.”

Users’ responses to the post were hostile at best.

One customer commented, “You have to be kidding right? You took my data and sold it to Uber and God knows who else… you can take your “apology” and shove it. It’s people like you Jojo who make humanity look worse and worse every day.”

And another, “Already uninstalled. You don’t get too steal my private data. F*** you and your crappy product. Hope your business fails tremendously.”

As always, Twitter is having a field day with the incident.

https://twitter.com/thezedwards/status/856194966791618561

Here is Hedaya’s full “apology” letter:

Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.

And while we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren’t explicit enough.

Sure we have a Terms of Service Agreement and a plain-English Privacy Policy that our users agree they have read and understand before they even sign up, but the reality is most of us –
myself included – don’t take the time to thoroughly review them.

So we need to do better for our users, and will from this point forward, with clearer messaging on our website, in our app, and in our FAQs. We will also be more clear about our data usage in our on-boarding process. The rest will remain the same: providing a killer service that gives you hours back in your day while protecting your privacy and security above all else.

I can’t stress enough the importance of your privacy. We never, ever release personal data about you. All data is completely anonymous and related to purchases only. To get a sense of what this data looks like and how it is used, check out the Slice Intelligence blog.

Thank you for being such an important part of our company. If there’s more we can be doing better, please let me know.

H/T the Guardian 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.