Who are these tracking companies? Meet Rapleaf.


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RapLeaf is a company that ties personal data to email addresses, boasting that they have information on 80% of US email addresses. Rapleaf aggregates and sells segmented data–like age, gender, zip codes, and even stuff like your level of education or personal interests–that’s explicitly tied to email addresses. The advertisers who buy this data use it to tailor their marketing (like ads and emails) to users’ interests.  They can also analyze this data to create sophisticated profiles of users’ behavior and preferences.

How it works:

Rapleaf personal segmentation

Image: Rapleaf.com

RapLeaf gathers data about consumers from a variety of sources: buying it from other companies, surveys, public records like voter files and marriage licenses, and even their own customers. When you log into a website that uses RapLeaf, that website makes a request to RapLeaf’s databases for whatever information RapLeaf has collected about your email address. (The website may also send RapLeaf any new information it has collected about you!) A tracking cookie containing that data, except your email address, is downloaded onto the your computer.  When you browse to other websites that work with RapLeaf, the data in that cookie can influence what content a website shows to you.

So what?

Rapleaf email data collection

Image: Rapleaf.com

Rapleaf is notorious for making extremely detailed personal profiles. Unlike many of the other trackers we profile, RapLeaf does not anonymize the data it collects about you–they know they’re dealing with you specifically–so they or their customers can associate your email address with whatever other information has been collected about you online. Any company with a list of email addresses can buy whatever information RapLeaf has for those email addresses, and you could be on that list. Rapleaf got in trouble for selling data about people’s reading habits and other personal info to the Maine GOP for election targeting.

Rapleaf was also caught collecting and selling people’s unique Facebook and MySpace IDs to advertisers, which created an opportunity for advertisers to gather even more personal information about these users from social networks. This behavior subsequently got Rapleaf kicked off Facebook.

How can RapLeaf benefit me?

Besides RapLeaf’s goal of making it easier for advertisers to serve more relevant content to users, some nifty utilities like Rapportive and etacts make use of this data to populate the information they display to their users. (Many of those utilities, in turn, have confirmed they don’t share any information back to RapLeaf.)

Want to dig even deeper? Check out Rapleaf’s privacy policy.
Read more about some of the other trackers DNTMe is now blocking:

9 Replies to “Who are these tracking companies? Meet Rapleaf.”

  1. Hey – This is Alex, VP of Product & Marketing at Rapleaf. I wanted to clarify a few things here.

    Our mission is to make it really easy for marketers to personalize content for their customers, so that ultimately you and I will receive a better experience from the brands we choose to interact with online. We feel that its useful for a marketer to know that I’m a male, so that when, for instance, Patagonia sends me an email offer, they show me the Men’s guide pants instead of the new sports bra.

    Segmented data is beneficial to my user experience, yet still respects my privacy as an individual. This is why we always anonymize data. We don’t share personally identifiable information with clients. If a marketer were to query Rapleaf with alex.wasserman@rapleaf.com, we would deliver back that I’m a male, 25-34 years old, live in Santa Cruz, am interested in outdoor sport, along with additional segmented data – this could be me, or it could be any number of my friends who are of a similar demographic.

    Lastly, we never ever track anyone’s online behavior. We do not drop cookies for the purpose of collecting information to add to our database. All data in our database comes from public sources, census data, and other opt-in sources – none of it comes from tracking (we’re not a tracking company). If you have any further questions, please check us out at http://www.rapleaf.com, or drop us a line at info@rapleaf.com.

    Many Thanks,

  2. Tom says:

    Yeah right….

    Don’t believe this scum bag.

    Here’s what Web Of Trust (WOT) shows for rapleaf.com


    Company is sleazy along with Mr. VP (wow-I’m so impressed) Alex

  3. jo says:

    Hey Alex (if I may call you Alex as I have to say your personalized intro did actually inspire a little confidence).

    As VP it is surely your mission to have your research conducted with integrity, in order to engender respect for your company and the companies in receipt of your research, and not random statistics, and that should indicate a measure of consent within your research programme.

    Too many people now are untrusting of unsolicited potentially virus bearing emails, to the point that your recipient companies are missing a vast swathe of potential customers, who either have your company blocked, which is not good, or who delete the recipient companies emails unread, or even worse, who have a specific email address set up for ‘randoms’ which is deleted daily.

    This is your failure, gone are the days when with a list of 10000 potential leads a 5% uptake was expected in order to make a very good profit -and that was with telemarketers on auto dial who sat with almost permanent rejection in an area which is now antiquated and basically dead.

    Conducted properly the internet is a whole new canvas that sales wise should not go wrong. YOU are making it wrong. As VP you should be sanctioning ways to properly generate profits for the companies to whom you sell the information you have trawled. AND – YES

    YOU ARE A TRACKING COMPANY – how else would I have come by your information.

    Come along Mr Wasserman you can do better than this.I have seen your website – you trawl, I give you a list, then you give me a list etc etc etc………….work it out – plus your unofficial stats are really bad particularly on the child protection side. Cleaning up your act may not be a bad thing!!!!!!! love n stuff

  4. alex w. says:

    You should change the name of your sickening organization RAPEleaf-would be more fitting…

  5. alex w. says:

    You should change the name of your horribly invasive and offensive organization “RAPEleaf” it would be more fitting.Ugh.Scum…

  6. JennyM says:

    I truly WANT to have confidence in Abine and DoNotTrackMe. But I need to know why, when I click on the DNT icon in my browser, I get a pop-up message (within the abine box) saying ‘Hello. You recently blocked RapLeaf. Click here to learn more.’ Are Abine and RapLeaf working together? Cos if so, I want to get rid of DNT asap!!

  7. ddddd says:

    “make it really easy for marketers to personalize content for their customers…”


    don’t you get it?

    The web was way better off when not every user was branded as a “customer”.

    You and your ilk who commodity anything and everything are the bane of the Internet as we know it whether you choose to understand that fact or not.

    Our sick society is vomiting out degenerates that aren’t capable of understanding how monstrously they are behaving.

  8. Joseph says:

    I wonder if “Alex”, who did not feel confident enough to share his last name, would elaborate on his company’s relationship with Lexis-Nexis Risk Solutions, and its direct feed into LNRS’s “Accurint” product.

    I’m a Libertarian by nature, but Rapleaf is precisely the kind of company that should be legislated out of existence.

  9. Jester says:

    Rapleaf no longer exists as “Rapleaf”, now is called “TowerData”, same old shit with different name.

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