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Yahoo! Accused Of Sending Personal Email Info To Advertisers

July 10, 2011

A British consumer organization is accusing Yahoo! of searching through users’ personal emails for information that they can use to sell advertising, according to a BBC News report Friday.

“¨According to the BBC report, Yahoo!, the largest email provider on the planet, is currently offering a new service that utilizes scanning technology to block spam. That same technology can also be used to scan the content of a user’s inbox and display advertising targeted specifically to them.

“¨In the report, Sarah Kidner from the consumer group Which? Computing calls the practice “a blatant intrusion of privacy,” while a Yahoo! spokesperson told the British news organization that the service does prompt email customers to give their consent.

“¨At the Santa Clara, California company’s online privacy policy page, the company admits that they collect “information about your transactions with us and with some of our business partners, including information about your use of financial products and services that we offer.”

“¨”Yahoo! uses information for the following general purposes: to customize the advertising and content you see, fulfill your requests for products and services, improve our services, contact you, conduct research, and provide anonymous reporting for internal and external clients.”

“¨They aren’t alone in the practice, according to the BBC News report.

“¨”Yahoo! is among a number of e-mail service providers which scans content,” the authors of the article wrote, noting that Google Mail’s website also admits that its scanning technology also is used to “deliver targeted text ads and other related information” in addition to filtering spam and finding viruses.

“¨Conversely, the reporters note that Hotmail owners and operators Microsoft said in a statement that they put “online privacy as a top priority”¦ not only does Windows Live Hotmail not read users’ e-mails, but we protect your inbox from anyone else accessing your e-mail with advanced security features.”

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