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April 16, 2018

Oath revamps Yahoo and AOL privacy policies to allow email, photo scans

by John_A

Verizon’s Oath, which owns both Yahoo and AOL, has updated its privacy policies with new information concerning what the company is allowed to do with user data. The company’s recently updated policies state that the sites it owns are allowed to scan emails, instant messages, photos, and other user data. The agreement also says that the data may be shared with Oath’s parent company, Verizon.

If you think Facebook is bad, Verizon under its stealth brand of “Oath” just rolled out a new privacy policies on a Friday hoping you wouldn’t notice. This says Verizon’s subsidiary Oath can scan your email to help advertisers micro-target you. Greed. Pay attention to the public.

— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) April 13, 2018

Prior to being acquired by Verizon, AOL’s policies did not mention anything regarding the collection of user data. That doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen, but there was nothing in their privacy agreements regarding the process. Yahoo, on the other hand, did specify that it “analyzes and stores all communications content, including email content.”

Another thing worth noting about Oath’s privacy policies is its section regarding banking information. As CNET reports, the company does scan emails related to banking and financial information. Their terms of service state that Oath may “… analyze user content around certain interactions with financial institutions.”

Another important change that Yahoo users will want to be aware of is the fact that Oath’s anti-arbitration agreements have been extended to Yahoo as well, making it more difficult to sue the company should users feel that their privacy has been violated.

Understandably, Oath’s new policies have prompted many questions from reporters and users concerned about privacy in the wake of the Facebook scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. However, as of the time of this article’s publication, Oath has only released the following statement which does not address any specific concerns users might have.

“The launch of a unified Oath privacy policy and terms of service is a key stepping stone toward creating what’s next for our consumers while empowering them with transparency and controls over how and when their data is used.”

Overall, this news isn’t completely out of character in 2018, but it’s always a good idea to read over these agreements.

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