I recently blogged about how we can be our own worst enemies in disclosing our online identity. And how the companies we provide this information to sell it to allow people to target you with marketing and advertising campaigns.
Since writing this a colleague brought to my attention a recent story involving a popular email management tool called unenroll.me. It is a service that scans your email inbox and automatically unsubscribes you from all those unwanted, annoying and time-consuming circular and advertising emails you receive. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And best of all, it’s free!
Except of course it’s not….
A recent New York Times article revealed that unenroll.me, which is owned by a company called Slice Intelligence has a side to its business model which most of its users are blissfully unaware of. In scanning your email, the service collects information on your buying habits by scanning invoices emailed to you. This information is then sold on to organisations such as Uber who want to know more about consumer spending.
who reads the small print anyway?
Is this a big problem? After all it is not that different a business model to loyalty cards. Well the main difference is the lack of transparency. Whilst unenroll.me do disclose this activity, it is hidden deep within their extensive terms and conditions in minute, difficult to read text (the cynical amongst us could say deliberately so…). And who reads the small print anyway? So users of the service are unlikely to be doing so in the knowledge of what they have given their consent to disclose.
there is no such thing as a free lunch
So again this is another example that demonstrates that ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’ and we should be cautious of the implications to our digital privacy of any online service that does not charge a fee.
It is also important to point out that by giving any service or app consent to access to your email inbox, they can potentially harvest highly sensitive information on you. Only do this if you are 100% confident on what you are signing up to. And be sure to check your privacy settings on your computer, tablets and phones to see what access you have already granted.
To understand better how to protect your digital identity come along to one of my Cyber Security workshops.