Last night I woke up to see a few dozen spam emails from a company called idrive addressed to different catchall emails that I use @aviary.com..
Everyone else who works at Aviary was reporting the same thing as well. And what's worse, some Aviary users whom I had corresponded with in the past got spam from idrive too and notified me about it. Even people who had deleted their Aviary accounts.
What apparently happened was solely my fault - not Aviary's - or rather the fault of an iphone contact synchronization service I use called iDrive.
Let me explain:
We use Gmail to manage our personal email. Gmail automatically adds people as Gmail contacts when we email them or get an email from them. So whenever we got an email from anyone it added us as a personal contact within my gmail account and iphone behind the scenes.
At Aviary we try to be very careful and respectful about people's privacy. We delete any personal data in the aviary system when we got an account deletion request.
The one oversight would be personal gmail contacts. I never realized that prior emails with someone would mean they became listed as a contact in my personal gmail account. That oversight is my fault and one that should have been completely inconsequential.
But, here's where things get really bad:
A couple of days ago I bought an iphone 3GS and was transferring all my data to it from my old iphone. As part of that process I bought an app called iDrive Lite in the app store that allowed you to backup your phone contacts to their servers and then resync them so nothing would be lost during the transition between phones.
Apparently this morning they used that data to spam EVERY single one of my contacts that had also synced from Gmail.
There's egg on my face as a result of this and I don't know what to do about it.
I apologize to everyone this affected. I'm deleting my idrive account, am blogging about this awful and illegal practice here, and will notify Apple about this, but since they resorted to something really shady here... I'm not sure what I can do to ensure that they really deleted all my contacts and wont spam ever again. :(
I am really, really sorry to anyone this effected.
I called iDrive's parent company Pro Softnet Corp and their operator kept pushing me to voicemail when I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. I have a feeling I'm not the first to call in and complain.
iDrive, shame on you. I hope this gets picked up by more people as a warning that nobody should ever, ever use them.
Update: IDrive's CEO emailed me and apologized. He posted a blog post that said they won't do this kind of thing anymore.]]