Edison Mail Responds to Report on Email Apps Selling Anonymized Data Scraped From Inboxes [Updated]

A report today from Motherboard highlights several email apps that sell anonymized or pseudonymised data collected from users' inboxes, including Edison Mail, Cleanfox, and Slice, adding that many users are unaware of this practice.

edison mail
An excerpt from the report:

The popular Edison email app, which is in the top 100 productivity apps on the Apple app store, scrapes users' email inboxes and sells products based off that information to clients in the finance, travel, and e-Commerce sectors. The contents of Edison users' inboxes are of particular interest to companies who can buy the data to make better investment decisions, according to a J.P. Morgan document obtained by Motherboard.

Data obtained by Motherboard reveals what some of the information scraped from emails can look like, using Slice as an example:

A spreadsheet containing data from Rakuten's Slice, an app that scrapes a user's inbox so they can better track packages or get their money back once a product goes down in price, contains the item that an app user bought from a specific brand, what they paid, and an unique identification code for each buyer.

The report serves as a good reminder to review the privacy policies of apps that you use. Edison Mail is transparent about its data collection in its privacy policy, for example, noting that it uses "non-personal data such as seller, product and price extracted from information we collect" to help its Edison Trends business partners "aggregate and understand commerce trends."

Edison's privacy policy and support website also indicate that users can opt out of having their anonymized data shared with Edison Trends partners by navigating to Account > Settings > Manage Privacy in the app.

Most importantly, Edison Mail requires users to accept or decline Edison Trends data collection during initial setup of the app.

Edison emphasizes its transparency in its response to the report:

To keep our Edison Mail app free, and to protect your privacy by rejecting an advertising-based business model, our company Edison Software, measures e-commerce through a technology that automatically recognizes commercial emails and extracts anonymous purchase information from them. Our technology is designed to ignore personal and work email, which does not help us measure market trends.

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.

To learn more, read Edison's lengthy blog post on its business model from last year.

Update: Cleanfox parent company Foxintelligence has also responded to the report:

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.

Tag: Edison

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...
maxresdefault

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Your iPhone 15 Can Show the Time When It's Out of Battery in iOS 18

Wednesday June 12, 2024 2:57 pm PDT by
The iPhone has had a Power Reserve function that holds back a small amount of battery life to allow features like Find My and NFC unlocking to work even when your device has died, and in iOS 18, Apple seems to be improving the feature further for the iPhone 15 models. As demonstrated on Reddit, when the battery on an iPhone running iOS 18 is exhausted, the phone can continue to show the time ...

Top Rated Comments

cloudyo Avatar
57 months ago
If you don't pay for the product, you are the product.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mdracer Avatar
57 months ago
Free, has a price.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
H3LL5P4WN Avatar
57 months ago
And this is why I stick to Apple's official apps.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zinacef Avatar
57 months ago

Most people in the real world know you can't get by with just Apple products.
I guess I'm not most people as I get by just fine with only Apple products (hardware & software).
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cosmosent Avatar
57 months ago
RE: "The report serves as a good reminder to review the privacy policies of apps that you use."

I disagree 100% !

Apple needs to add something new to App Submittals, a checkbox that says "Collects NO User Data".

If an App Dev checks it off, & the app is approved & later found to violate the term, it should be permanently removed from the App Store !

BTW, the Collects NO User Data "idea" originated from some other member here on MR, years ago !

Credit goes where credit is due !

I do NOT remember who the MR member is.

And very specifically, Apple needs to add something to App Store preview for each app, that indentifies whether the checkbox has been marked off OR NOT by the App Dev.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MRrainer Avatar
57 months ago
TANSTAAFL
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)