Alleged Edison Email Scraping Fuels Privacy Concerns

Privacy experts are still reeling from the news that Edison, the provider of a popular email app, scrapes email inboxes and sells the data to clients. It is the latest in a stream of similar revelations that could erode consumer trust in the technology industry.

Motherboard broke the story, based on a JP Morgan document it had obtained.  Reporter Joseph Cox writes that the “contents of Edison users' inboxes are of particular interest to companies who can buy the data to make better investment decisions.”

The information is being sold to clients in the finance, travel and ecommerce sectors, Cox continues.

And Edison users interviewed by Cox say they were unaware of this activity.

Critics seemed unwilling to cut Edison much slack.

“The late 2010s will go down in history as the period when we realized the true cost of giving so much personal information to tech companies,” Security Boulevard comments. 

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It adds that while the data gathered by Edison “is allegedly anonymized, true anonymization is an extremely high standard that companies don’t always live up to.”

Edison has responded to 9to5 Mac that “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.”

The company adds that it “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.”

Users 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,” it continues.

Motherboard notes that Edison is only “one of several companies that offer free email apps which then sell anonymized or pseudonymised data derived from users' inboxes.”

Motherboard also cites Foxintelligence, which allegedly sells data on users of the Cleanfox app, an inbox cleanup tool.

In a blog item, Edison claims that itoffers “a quality alternative for individuals searching for an email application without advertisements.” The app is available through the Apple App Store. 

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