WSJ: Yahoo plans to scan users' messages for data to sell to advertisers

Everything has a cost, especially in the realm of online services. It used to be a pretty common practice for providers of 'free' email services to scan their user's messages for data that'd be valuable to advertisers. The data got sold to keep the email provider's lights on, with in-browser advertising filling in the financial gaps. Most email providers abandoned the practice, years ago: they were amazed to find that it pissed off their users. Yahoo's parent company, Oath, however, is getting back on this particular brand of bullshit.

From The Verge:

Yahoo’s owner, Oath, is in talks with advertisers to provide a service that would analyze over 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes for consumer data, sources told WSJ. Oath did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oath confirmed to the WSJ that it performs email scannings and said that it only scans promotional emails, usually from retailers. Users have the ability to opt out, it said. Oath’s argument is that email is an expensive system, and people can’t expect a free service without some value exchanged.

That's greasy.

Greasier still is the fact that even if you pony up the dough, on a monthly basis, for Yahoo's premium email services, your data will get scanned unless you opt to opt out. Finding the page that lets you do this, surprise, surprise is not easy to do. We've got your back, though. Follow this link to take control of your Oath-related privacy settings.

Oath swears that the data scraping method they use ignores personal information and personal identifiers. Somehow, given the number of data breaches and user-related scandals that Yahoo and Oath have seen in the past, I have a hard time believing this--especially given the fact that Oath's privacy policy mentions that they think it's cool for your emails to be read not just by machines, but people in their employ and maaaaaaaybe contractors, too.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

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