Edison Mail

There have been reports of Edison Mail — a popular email client on iPhones and Android — showing other people’s accounts on your phone.

I was surprised by this. I’ve written many email clients, and I couldn’t imagine how this could happen. Email clients may take multiple accounts, but they only involve traffic to the mail server and your device. How would other people’s email account end up on your system? You don’t even know the other person’s credentials in order to do it.

Turns out that Edison Mail process your email on their servers. You give Edison Mail your email credentials and passwords, so they can rifle through… I mean parse through your email, and help sort it and organize it for you.

What really gets me is how much Edison Mail talks about respecting your privacy on their webpage and blogs and how you’re never targeted with ads, but their actual privacy policy tells a completely different story:

By linking our Services to your email or other internet accounts, you authorize us to collect, process, and retain information, including personal information, from those accounts. We use this information to provide our Services to you and, as permitted, use Commercial Data, which is non-personal data such as seller, product and price extracted from information we collect, to help us and our Edison Trends’ subscribers aggregate and understand commerce trends.

I can’t believe this email app had been so popular.

I’ve never even seen Edison Mail, but I saw some commentary elsewhere (can’t remember where) that third-party email clients are pushed into this sort of architecture because Apple won’t let them check mail in the background like the built-in Mail client.

I’ve never even seen Edison Mail

It’s quite popular because of its smart features. It can organize your mail in all sorts of ways The Verge did a review earlier.

I saw some commentary […] that third-party email clients are pushed into this sort of architecture because Apple won’t let them check mail in the background like the built-in Mail client.

No. This isn’t a hack. It’s a definite feature of the product. The Edison Mail client does the same thing on Android and MacOS. Edison’s business model depends upon parsing people’s emails. Their business is selling business intelligence to their clients. Seeing what your competitors are emailing their customers.

Interesting. So they’re evaluating what companies are doing by looking at the commercial messages their users receive.

From https://mail.edison.tech/privacy-commitments

To keep our services free for you to use, we collect and store information from commercial messages such as promotions and receipts. We always remove any information that identifies you personally (emails, names, addresses). This data is anonymized and the only use of this data is to create aggregate research reports. We prohibit businesses from tracking, advertising or attempting to re-identify any users individually, and from using the information for any purpose other than understanding e-commerce trends. You can see and access examples of the aggregated research we develop at Edison Trends.