YAHOO AND AOL are understood to be scanning customers emails to help it sell and target advertisements, much as we suggested it might a few months back.
A report in the Wall Street Journal (come on lads - keep up) suggests that the two companies scanned 200 million Yahoo mailboxes for things like receipts, invoices, loan agreements and such which they can then use for customer profiling.
Both companies are now under Verizon's version of Sports Direct, known as Oath, where good brands go to die. AOL confirmed that it is already using the technique.
Oath's vice president of data, measurements and insights, Doug Sharp, cried a river at the Journal, explaining: "Email is an expensive system, I think it's reasonable and ethical to expect the 'value exchange,' if you've got this mail service and there is advertising going on."
In other words - it's that Cambridge Analytica crown jewel - if you don't pay for the product, you are the product.
Oath has said that both companies are only scanning corporate mail outs, and so your letters from Auntie Shirley should remain untouched.
But with the official policy stating that its profiling is based on "educated guesses" from the content of the email, it follows that it may, on occasion make an incorrect educated guess over the nature of an email.
You can turn off the scanning if you feel strongly, on the relevant AOL or Yahoo Privacy pages.
Yahoo Mail has lagged behind its rivals a lot in terms of its feature set and to date isn't even fully encrypted. Google confirmed last year that it was ending the scanning of Gmail boxes following concerns from privacy advocates. It now no longer uses such data to target ads in your browser.
Meanwhile, GDPR means that Oath is still treading a fine line in terms of what it does and it could be that at some point a customer or their lawyer will call the group out to show it is in compliance. μ
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