Not so long ago, I wrote a post about an email roll-up service called Unroll.me. At that time, I thought it was GREAT!

It’s since been discovered that this service is actually SELLING user’s data! There’s been a lot of back and forth in my business community where people are saying “Who cares? The data is anonymous? It’s only for market research? Look at what they have on us anyway? I don’t care, I’m still going to use it”

Here’s what I think:

Some people are far too trusting with their data. Yes, the sold data is anonymized. Yes, it’s collected for ‘market research’ purposes, but being someone that’s worked in managing IT data warehousing projects for >10 years, here’s what else you should take into consideration when consenting (or not consenting) to your data being used:

1. Has the company hidden the end use of the data in obscure terms and conditions?

2. Do you think that once your data is sold ‘for marketing purposes’ that it just sits there? It doesn’t. Data brokers specialize in matching and selling data. Your so called anonymized data can then be used by the data broker in DIFFERENT manner to the manner you initially consented to. E.g. it could be provided to a health insurance agency, or a credit agency and have secondary effects on insurance or credit applications.

3. How secure are the servers that your data is kept on? How reputable are the companies buying your data and selling your data?

4. What did you consent to originally? In the case of unroll.me, the purpose for allowing them access to your email was to roll up emails, not to trawl through and mine your data for onselling purposes.

5. Just because companies already have data on us, does that mean we should feel happy giving them more?

6. If anonymizing data is not done properly, it’s possible to re-identify people in an anonymized data set.

Consenting to disclose your data is up to you, but please make sure you’re informed of potential implications first.

I’ve DELETED my unroll.me account and am using a Google script that enables you to almost ‘grown your own’ unroll.me WITHOUT selling your data unknowingly!

Want to know how to do that? I’ll tell you next blog.