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

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.

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.

Tag: Edison

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Edison Mail Comes to Mac and iOS App Gains Smart Assistant Feature

Edison Software, makers of Edison Mail for iOS and Android, today debuted Edison Mail for desktop Macs. The developers say the app aims to eliminate common frustrations with desktop mail, all within a minimalist UI that's designed to save time managing emails.

Edison Mail for Mac includes all of the features that make the mobile apps popular, including One-Click Unsubscribe for junk messages, Block Sender, Custom Snooze, Undo Send, and automatic Read Receipt Blocking to prevent advertisers from tracking your email actions.

Email "power user" features are also built-in, including Dark Mode to reduce potential eye strain, Swipe Gestures to manage mail faster, and a Unified Inbox that makes Edison compatible with nearly all email providers to manage unlimited email accounts all in one place. Edison Mail for Mac supports use with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, iCloud, and many other mail providers.

Edison Mail for Mac also introduces new features that are designed to maximize mailbox efficiency for desktop users. New Keyboard Shortcuts are available in three settings — default Edison Mail shortcuts, shortcuts users are already familiar with from other mail providers, and the ability to create custom shortcuts.

Elsewhere, Threading allows users to view all of their emails on the same subject together (even for non-Gmail accounts that don’t support Threading), while new Email Templates aim to simplify the task of sending repeated emails with the same content.

Additionally, the ability to Search Settings allows users to find a setting item they're looking for ("‌Dark Mode‌" or "Font," for example) and other items, instead of having to navigate through all options.

According to the developers, the Mac app has been built for existing users of its mobile apps who requested a desktop version. As such, the new Mac app is available by invitation to current Edison Mail users on iOS and Android, rolling out throughout December and beyond. Everyone else can sign up to be invited to use the app at http://mail.edison.tech/mac.

Today, Edison Mail also released a new version of its app for iOS and Android featuring Assistant – a new feature to preview your upcoming meetings, travel, bills, missed calendar invitations, and forgotten subscriptions all in one place.

Assistant lives in the upper right corner of the Edison Mail inbox screen, where users can tap to see what they've got on their schedules in the coming days. Calendar integration includes the day ahead, events that users may have forgotten to RSVP for, bill payment reminders, and travel reminders and information.

Lastly, regular readers may recall that Edison was one of the mail apps found to have been letting their employees read customer emails to optimize smart features. For the record, Edison Software says it has since stopped the practice and deleted any data related to it.

For anyone who still has privacy concerns, both the mobile and desktop apps include options for users to opt-out of data sharing and fully delete any data from both the Edison app and the company's servers.

Edison Mail is available to download for free for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tags: Email, Edison

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