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Do Shopping Agents sell your personal data?

Date: 4/21/2021

The moment Sugargoo opened their website, claims arose that they were selling your personal data to spam lists. Today we will use the chance to analyze the accusation, if there's anything to it and what could be the intention behind it. We will look at this from a general perspective, not just Sugargoo.

The accusation

The agents supposedly sell your personal data, such as email address, physical address and even passwords to spam lists.

The motive

The supposed motive is money, of course. These spam lists pay money for active email addresses with as much extra info as possible. They then abuse the addresses to send you spam ads.

In most countries it is illegal to send users email they didn't sign up for. Critics would say that the agents don't have to care about these laws so this isn't stopping them, which is true. So yes, the agents could theoretically make money from this.

But, there are a few flaws with this supposed motive behind the accusation. For the same reason other sites you sign up on don't do this, they have a more lucrative business model (processing and shipping taobao items), and the blow to their reputation wouldn't outweigh the cents they get from the spam lists.

The evidence

Simply put, there is none. The users could've entered their information on any spam site.

No one has shown spam mail from an email account that's just been used for Sugargoo or the other agents.

What speaks against it

The accusations got really loud when Sugargoo showed up to change the rep market, and then quickly quieted down. This could very well be a slan

Also the more information you sell, the better they spammers can target you with ads, hence it's worth more. It would easily be possible for Sugargoo to collect your gender, birthday and location during sign up. This would not seem too specific and increase the value of your data by a lot, but they don't do it.

The agents know that we are a connected community of above average technical knowledge. This means that we'd quickly find out and spread the word. Their reputation would be ruined.

The verdict

There is no evidence to support the accusation that agents sell your information. From a business perspective the claim itself makes very little sense for the agents, as this is not worth losing your reputation over. You can say they would be better off to recruit shills and farm karma with reddit accounts than sell your information.

Who or what else could be behind it

This almost seems like a slander campaigns from a competing agent or community members on the pay role of one of these established agents. Some want to keep the status quo. We believe we profit if everyone is happy. That's why we support fair competition between agents and sellers.

Another possibility is a data breach, then the lack of a motive from the perspective of an agent wouldn't matter. But surely, if there was a data breach more users would be affected and we could easily trace the cause back to an agent.

What you can do to protect yourself

It is still a good idea to use password you don't use on other sites and probably a separate email address.

If you want to take a counter-offensive and collect the evidence we are missing you can add a + and any random number to the end of a gmail address. This will generate a unique new email address, that you can still receive in your main inbox. If you don't use it anywhere else, you'll know with certainty that the agent you signed up for sold your information or had a data breach.


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