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Unroll.me Apologizes for Not Being Clear It Sells User Data

The boss of 'inbox tidying' service Unroll.me has apologized to its users for not being clear enough that it sells anonymized data to clients.

The firm began to feel the heat from customers after a major New York Times profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at the weekend revealed that the controversial hailing app had bought data from Unroll.me showing Lyft email receipts.

The data is said to have helped Uber gauge how well its rival was doing.

Although the emailed receipts from Unroll.me users’ inboxes were anonymized, as all its data is, the anticipated privacy backlash warranted a swift response from its CEO and co-founder, Jojo Hedaya.

In a blog post, he admitted the free service wasn’t clear enough about how it makes its money – i.e. selling on user data related to purchases.

“Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heart-breaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service,” he claimed.

“And while we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren’t explicit enough.”

The service itself is marketed as a handy way to clean up one’s inbox. Once granted access, it combs a user’s webmail account for all subscription emails and allows them to unsubscribe en masse from those they don’t want.

It appears that customers are only now beginning to understand the price they pay for the free service.

Uber’s purchase of the Unroll.me data is ironically one of the least controversial things it has been accused of recently.

Kalanick was called into Apple boss Tim Cook’s office a couple of years ago after breaking App Store rules governing data collection, the same New York Times report revealed.

Uber was apparently collecting the serial numbers of iPhones it was installed on to prevent account fraud where some drivers would buy cheap handsets, create new accounts and then request fake accounts to artificially inflate their income.

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