Among the revelations in an April 23 story in The New York Times about Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was a single paragraph which revealed that the ride-hailing company had purchased data that included anonymized Lyft receipts.
This is behavior we expect from Uber, which over the years has introduced numerous programs to track users, drivers, its competition and even law enforcement.
But this detail has caused backlash against the company that sold the data: Slice Intelligence, which owns an email service called Unroll.Me. The free service rolls up subscription and marketing emails that litter inboxes into a single, convenient digest.
I use Unroll.Me on all my inboxes, and it saves me the frustration of dealing with scores of individual messages each day. And guess what? I plan to continue using the service.
“We also collect non-personal information — data in a form that does not permit direct association with any specific individual. We may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non-personal information for any purpose. For example, when you use our services, we may collect data from and about the ‘commercial electronic mail messages’ and ‘transactional or relationship messages’ (as such terms are defined in the CAN-SPAM Act (15 U.S.C. 7702 et. seq.)) that are sent to your email accounts.”
Both the words “sell” and “transactional” are in that section. Essentially, users gave permission to Slice to sell their Lyft receipts.
Of course, after every “scandal” comes the “apology,” and Unroll.Me’s CEO and co-founder Jojo Hedaya hit the right notes with his.
Yes, he acknowledges that people are upset, but he also correctly points the finger at all of our lazy behavior, with our inclination to click “I agree” as quickly as possible.
If people are upset that their data is being sold by Unroll.Me or any other company they signed an agreement with, they should know who to blame: themselves.