Is it right for Yahoo! to snoop on your emails?
Yahoo! Mail plans to snoop on your emails. Accepting its updated T&Cs give it the right to read your messages and target relevant advertising. Would you be happy if your emails were analysed in this way?
It’s eight in the evening, you’re juggling a glass of wine and a sneaky fag in one hand, while emailing away with the other. You’re venting to your best friend about the latest slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to have befallen your life; secure in the knowledge that nobody’s eavesdropping on your conversation.
Well, before you raise your glass in a congratulatory toast at this self recognition, you need to revisit that last comment, especially if Yahoo! Mail (Yahoo!) is your email service provider.
Why? Because Yahoo! Mail, Which? Computing has learned, is currently in the process of updating its terms and conditions to allow it to read and analyse its customers’ emails and messaging content.
Yahoo! Mail’s updated T&Cs
The world’s largest email provider has said that if you agree to its Additional Terms of Service (ATOS), you’re giving it your express permission to scan and analyse the content of any electronic correspondence sent by your account.
Why is it scanning your emails? In short, to target relevant content and advertising – this is something the email provider lets you opt-out of, but not the scanning itself.
To a certain extent we have no issue with this, if consent is being given freely. The only thing we would say is make sure you read the T&Cs, because if you don’t you’re in for a nasty shock. We do, however, have an issue with Section C. of the ATOS, which states:
‘By using the Services, you consent to allow our automated systems to scan and analyse all incoming and outgoing communications content sent and received from your account (such as Mail and Messenger content including instant messages and SMS messages).
‘If you consent to this ATOS and communicate with non-Yahoo! users using the Services, you are responsible for notifying those users about this feature.’
In other words, it’s saying that it will go on to do the same with any emails sent to your inbox, even if these senders have not given their express consent for this to take place (as they may not use Yahoo! Mail).
Can senders really give consent?
Yahoo! also says it’s apparently down to you to notify senders that their emails are now being analysed, which implies that once this has taken place senders have given their consent. Obviously, we have concerns with this, our main one being whether it’s even possible to get consent vicariously?
We’ve put a few of these questions to the Home Office and will update you as soon as we hear from it. In the meantime, if you object to Yahoo!’s new terms, we suggest you switch to a different email provider.
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