The popular Edison email app is the top 100 efficiency app in The Apple App Store, accessing users’ email inbox content and selling information-based products to customers in the financial, travel and e-commerce sectors, according tomedia VICE. According to a JPMorgan document obtained by Motherboard, companies that can buy data to make better investment decisions particularly like the content in Edison’s user’s inbox.
Edison says on its website that it “processes” users’ emails, but what some users don’t know is that when they use the Edison app, the company gets the content of its inbox for a profit. Motherboard also obtained documentation that provides more details about how the other two popular apps (Cleanfox and Slice) sell products based on emails that users send to enterprise customers.
Seb Insua, a user at Edison, said: “They’re definitely going to be ahead of the business. He added: “Their websites often feature content such as ‘no advertising’ and ‘privacy first’,” he added. )
“I don’t know what they’re doing. They introduced new features i really liked, such as package tracking, price tracking, and so on, but now the reason they’ve expanded these features has been discovered – just to collect user data,” said Ronnie Johnson, another Edison user. A third user also said they were unaware of the data sale.
The document adds that some of the data listed in the JPMorgan documents comes from “personal inboxes.” A JPMorgan spokesman told Motherboard that the study was “aimed at institutional customers.”
The document describes Edison as providing “consumer buying metrics, including brand loyalty, buying preferences, and so on.” The document adds that the “source” of the data is the “Edison e-mail application.”
Edison offers “Edison Trends” and “Trend Direct” in the product section of its website. The company said it could provide “detailed patterns of behavior to improve customer experience and business outcomes.” “
Edison is just one of several companies that offer free email apps and then sell anonymous or pseudonymous data from users’ inboxes. Fox Intelligence, another inbox-mining company, has data from users of the Cleanfox app that organizes users’ inboxes.
“From a higher level, we believe that crowdsourcing transaction data has the power to change for consumers and companies,” Foxintelligence chief operating officer Florian Cleyet-Merle told Motherboard in an email. And it can create value for both parties without compromising privacy in the market. “
A confidential Foxintelligence presentation obtained by Motherboard lists what it calls “customer examples.” They include PayPal, consulting giants Bain and McKinsey. Most companies did not respond to requests for comment, but Bolt, the European ride-sharing app, which also lists customers as its predecessor, Txfy, told Motherboard in an email, “We used to use Foxintelligence to anonymize the market share of French ride service data.” We do not use them for a limited purpose and are no longer a customer of the company. Cleyet-Merle added: “Not all of the brands in your screenshots are currently Foxintelligence customers”, but did not elaborate further.
The dataset obtained by Motherboard shows what some of the information extracted from the inbox of the user of the free email application is. A spreadsheet containing Rakuten’s Slice’s data, which grabs users’ inboxes so they can better track packages or get money back after a price drop in a product price, and contains items purchased by users from a particular brand, the price they pay, and a unique identification code for each buyer. Last month, the company created a page on its website telling users how to opt out of sales data. Rakuten told Motherboard in an email that it was introduced to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Indua, one of Edison’s users, said he had no problem with the data collection itself, but thought Edison could explain more clearly how they actually handled the e-mail data they collected.
“‘Creative research’ makes them look like academics, or share it with public bodies for non-commercial reasons,” says Indua. He added: “They may be like, ‘We anonymize your email purchase data and sell the research.’ “