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Security & privacy

Security warning: These apps are reading your emails and selling your data

Having multiple email accounts is the norm these days. Most people have at least one personal email that is shared with friends and family, plus a work email for business.

You might even have a “burner” email address to use on sites you don’t want to give your real email address to. Tap or click here to clear your inbox by creating a disposable email address.

But keeping track of each email account can be a struggle. That’s why many people turn to apps that manage all of their accounts in one place. Unfortunately, some of those popular apps have been caught spying on your messages and selling that data to other companies.

Is your inbox being scraped for profit?

Having a tool to organize all of your email accounts is a great idea — unless the company offering those tools is selling you out. Sadly, that’s exactly what’s been happening.

According to a new report by Motherboard, some popular email productivity apps have been “scraping” users’ email accounts for information and selling that data to other companies.

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One of the apps included in the report is the Edison email app. Edison’s privacy policy describes how it uses information in its clients’ emails. Here’s what it says:

“Edison accesses and processes email messages in any email accounts you have connected and data collected from other internet accounts you connect. By linking our Services to your email or other internet accounts, you authorize us to collect, process, and retain information, including personal information, from those accounts.

We use this information to provide our Services to you and, as permitted, use Commercial Data, which is non-personal data such as seller, product, and price extracted from information we collect, to help us and our Edison Trends’ subscribers aggregate and understand commerce trends.”

So is it really worth using if the company is just going to sell your information? If you don’t like this, it’s time to use a different service.

Which email apps are selling your data?

Edison is just one of the companies that are scraping users’ emails and selling that information. There are others.

Here are the apps listed in the report:

  • Edison Mail
  • Cleanfox
  • Slice

Each company in question told Motherboard that the information sold to their clients is “anonymized.” That means your identity should be protected, but is it really?

Even if identifiable information isn’t given to companies, there are ways to link data to users. There are techniques that can be used to figure out who the anonymous data belongs to by tying information found online to the anonymous data.

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So why do companies even want this information? Apparently, they are interested in consumer trends so they can do a better job of marketing their products. Companies in the world of finance, travel and e-commerce are especially interested in this intel.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to stop these companies from selling your data, unless you decide to stop using their products altogether.

But it’s getting more difficult to stay anonymous online no matter where you turn. With targeted ads helping sites pay for their existence, data tracking seems to be the wave of the future. You just have to ask yourself how badly you need these services.

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