Yahoo has hit back at claims from consumer group Which? that updated T&Cs on its new Mail service violate internet users' privacy and could lead to behavioural advertising by the back door.
The terms in question are Section c. of Yahoo Mail's Additional Terms Of Service which read: "By using the Services, you consent to allow Yahoo's 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)."
Which? argued that "most consumers would be horrified to learn that their email can be read in order to open the door to targeted advertisers".
However, Yahoo contacted V3.co.uk on Monday to put its side of the story.
This seems to boil down to the fact that users are informed before they sign up via a pop-up notice that most of its competitors already have similar automated scanning in operation, and that the service will not lead to covert behavioural advertising but is primarily aimed at improving the user experience.
Such enhancements include recognising links to Flickr accounts in messages which will then automatically display photos in the body of the email, or directing automatically distributed mail such as newsletters into specific folders.
Undoubtedly customer information will be increasingly used by messaging providers to enhance their services and target relevant ads. The question is whether the benefits to the customer outweigh any lingering privacy concerns.
In most cases, as has already been proved most successfully by Google, they do. If you don't like the new Yahoo Mail, don't upgrade.
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