A service that blocks spam is in damage control mode after revelations it sells user data

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The CEO of a service intended to block spam emails is in damage control mode after it was revealed that the company sneakily sells user data.

Unroll.Me is a popular free app that helps people quickly unsubscribe from email subscriptions, as well as combine promotional emails into a daily "rollup" letter. It was acquired by Slice in 2014, which is best known as a shopping and package tracking app.

However, Slice has another business: selling user data to marketing companies. Uber was using Slice's data services to find out more about Lyft's business, which in turn tapped Unroll.Me user data according to a New York Times report.

In response, the company's CEO wrote that he was heartbroken that people discovered the company sells its user data.

"Our users are the heart of our company and service," Unroll.Me CEO Jojo Hedaya said in a blog post on the company website. "So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service."

Nevertheless, he said that the company's business model is clear if users read the fine print.

"[W]hile we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren't explicit enough," he wrote.

The information Unroll.Me sells isn't about a specific person. Instead, it sells anonymous behavior patterns. Users agree to share their data when they agree to the terms of service agreement, Hedaya pointed out, but he admitted no one really reads through the fine print.

"Sure we have a Terms of Service Agreement and a plain-English Privacy Policy that our users agree they have read and understand before they even sign up, but the reality is most of us — myself included — don't take the time to thoroughly review them," he wrote.