Author: Scott Rosenberg / Source: NewCo Shift
The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories
The entire digital economy is built on a simple transaction model in which users give companies access to their personal data and companies provide services cheap or free. It’s a convenient and successful scheme, but it has some ugly incentives built in. And every now and then, a news story that lifts the veil from its shadier corners causes the world to go “yuck.”
In the latest incident of this sort, readers of Mike Isaac’s in-depth New York Times profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick yesterday learned that an email inbox cleanup service called Unroll.me was selling anonymized data about its users’ behavior to third-party companies. In this case, Uber paid Unroll.me for reports on the volume of Lyft receipts in its users’ email so it could suss out the health of its rival’s business. Much online outcry ensued (here’s a good summary from CBS News).
Maybe, as an individual user of Unroll.me, you don’t care. No one’s getting your name; your info is just a tiny data point marshaled in a battle of billion-dollar startup titans. But a lot of people simply feel creeped out to discover that the details of their email account activity are being bought and sold. Also: It’s become easy for marketing firms (and governments) to pull together info from multiple services and figure out your identity, if they wish.
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