Kaiser Fung writes:
"The Times article contained another revelation. Uber buys data from a startup called Slice Intelligence, who resells data from Unroll.me. Unroll.me runs a free service that helps people get rid of the clutter of spam in their email boxes - you grant permission to the company to peek into your mailbox, and pull out the unsubscribe links from various email lists. Well, it turns out that this service is a front for corporate espionage. Once inside your mailbox, their code gathers data about your purchases, and sells the data to companies: in this case, Uber buys data from Slice about its competitor, Lyft.
Here is actually one of the unspoken secrets of this "big data" industry. Unroll.me is one of many, many apps that are designed to collect data about our daily lives while fronting to be something else. ...
Again, it appears that the founders, managers or engineers who work for these outfits assume that their customers do not want to be tracked in such a manner because all such operations are hidden from view, and any disclosure is usually buried inside legalese that almost no one ever reads. …
Data sleaze is the data about one's own customers that are obtained secretly by businesses, and then sold to the highest bidders, also in secret transactions. The production of data sleaze is frequently justified by giving services away for "free." However, running a business as a "free service" fronting a profitable espionage operation is a choice made by management teams, not an inevitability. Indeed, many businesses that have a proper revenue model also produce data sleaze."