If you are someone who is heavily relied on Apple’s iOS and Mac third party emailing apps to communicate crucial pieces of information with others, you might just want to pause and rethink that. It has recently come to light that some of these popular email iOS and Mac apps have been scrapping user’s private data and have been selling them.
Motherboard, a popular technology-related news division of Vice, has obtained several confidential documents which clearly state how several companies who make these apps scrape their user’s confidential inbox messages and sell products to clients in the finance, travel, and e-Commerce sectors using that data. One such app is ‘Edison’ which happens to be quite a popular email app that is also listed under ‘Top 100 productivity apps’ in Apple’s app store. Motherboard further went on to remark that the data obtained from these inboxes could potentially be used to make better investment decisions.
On their website’s product page, Edison has some interesting offering known as ‘Edison Insights’ and ‘Trends Direct’ respectively, which they claim can provide ‘actionable intelligence in consumer purchase trends’. It can totally make sense now as to how they fulfil this offering of theirs after the recent report coming into light.
Responding to the allegation, however, Edison has recently posted a Medium article by justifying their actions and explaining how the data is harvested in complete anonymity therefore allegedly trying to put their users at ease. They also further went ahead to remark that the collection of data helps them keep the platform free of any charges.
Edison doesn’t happen to be the only app that has come under a microscope with the surfacing of this report. Other popular email apps include Clearfox and Slice. The Clearfox email app mines user data and sends them to an intelligence firm called Foxintelligence. When the firm was sent an enquiry about the same, their Chief Operating Officer Florian Cleyet-Merle replied in an email by saying that they believe that actionable insights and information could be derived from the data that they harvest without compromising with a user’s privacy while benefitting both the sides.
Slice’s defence to this whole fiasco seemed to be a lousy one as it seems that last month they had created a page on their website instructing users how to opt-out of the usage and selling of their data in compliance to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). However, Rakuten the company which acquired Slice didn’t seem to dispute the fact when Motherboard provided them with a list of the titles of columns of the data by remarking that they didn’t know Slice was doing that.
Our Finals Thoughts
It can well be said that in the future, privacy would be considered as a thing of luxury. As more and more reports surface day in and day out about incidents such as these, it becomes quite difficult to process and understand which platforms can be trusted to respect a user’s privacy over the internet. Most of the platforms that we are accustomed to or are dependent on, seem to harvest and sell off our data to some of the other intelligence firms under the pretext that it is done while ensuring complete anonymity which, we all can fairly deduce is not completely true.
As of 2019, Apple has sold nearly 138.6 million units of iPhone, which run on iOS. The sales of iPad and Mac devices, together, in 2019 is expected to hover around 60 million. It’s important to note that Apple no longer discloses the sales figure of its device, and such figures are provided by third-party trackers. This potentially means millions of people’s data could be compromised by some of these apps in Apple’s app store.
Hence, as a leading tech product and innovation company, they must recheck their tall claims about their commitment to privacy and the stringent policies that they have put in place to avoid any such activities as those which have recently come under the public eye. We believe that its time that the company takes a closer look at some of the apps that they have been allowing on their App Store while making sure that these apps comply with the policies and commitments of Apple Inc. itself.