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Unroll.me hit with privacy suit over alleged sale of user data

The inbox cleanup service has been accused of violating federal privacy laws by allegedly harvesting user data.

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The inbox cleanup service Unroll.me has been accused of violating federal privacy laws.

Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

Consumers aren't quite ready to forgive Unroll.me for its alleged practice of selling users' email data.

The inbox cleanup service was sued Wednesday in Northern California District Court for failing to adequately disclose how it allegedly harvests valuable data from its users' accounts. The lawsuit (PDF) accuses Unroll.me and its parent company, Slice, of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act.

"Defendants did not adequately disclose to consumers the true purpose for why they seek access to UnrollMe users' emails for an important and obvious reason: few (if any) consumers would knowingly hand over complete access to their private emails to a company that would invasively scour through them and then sell the data they gather about you to whoever would pay the most," according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the San Francisco-based law firm Edelson.

Unroll.me offers a free service that promises to organize your inbox by sorting subscription emails and letting you unsubscribe from the ones you don't want. But according to reports, Unroll.me also tracked emailed receipts sent by the ride-sharing company Lyft, and sold them to Uber, Lyft's biggest competitor.

While Unroll.me did not specifically admit to selling data to Uber, it has apologised for not being "explicit enough" in explaining how its free service worked.

"It was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service," CEO Jojo Hedaya said on the Unroll.me blog.

Edelson's lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Jason Cooper, seeks class action status and unspecific monetary damages.

Neither Unroll.me nor Slice immediately responded to a request for comment.

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