Oath Tells Users It Is Scanning AOL and Yahoo Mail Emails

Oath, the umbrella brand of AOL and Yahoo Mail, has informed users that it will scan their emails for use in targeted advertising.

This will come as no surprise to Yahoo Mail users who have read Yahoo’s privacy policy — the practice has been in place for some time — but it has now been extended to AOL email users.

Google stopped scanning Gmail messages last year. It has faced class-action lawsuits and criticism over the practice.  

CNET reports that Oath has extended its arbitration clause and class-action waiver to Yahoo Mail, and that this will make it harder for consumers to sue.

Oath’s revised policy covers “analyzing content and information when you use our services (including emails, instant messages, posts, photos, attachments, and other communications), linking your activity on other sites and apps with information we have about you, and providing anonyizzed and/or aggregated reports to other parties regarding user trends,” according to media reports. 

In addition, it says, “Oath and its affiliates may share the information we receive with Verizon.”

Users are urged to push the button, “I accept.” 

Oath also states that it “may analyze user content around certain interactions with financial institutions. This enables Oath to build features which facilitate interactions with such institutions as well as offer more relevant ads when users are served ads by the Oath Network.”

It adds that this includes “information financial institutions are allowed to send over email,” subject to regulation. 

Gizmodo reports that Oath “even notes that it can collect Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) data from images uploaded by the user — information that can be used to identify everything from the date and time a photo was taken to the geolocation associated with an image.”  

According to CNET, an Oath spokesperson confirmed the change, saying: "The launch of a unified Oath privacy policy and terms of service is a key stepping stone toward creating what's next for our consumers while empowering them with transparency and controls over how and when their data is used." 


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