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Yahoo! to Target Ads Based on Customer E-mails

July 8 2011
Internet giant Yahoo! plans to make changes to its terms and conditions to allow its systems to read and analyse users’ e-mails and then send them targeted advertising based on their interests and hobbies.

New T&Cs causing alarm...In a report published in Which? Computing magazine, it was revealed that yahoo.com e-mail accounts will be automatically scanned to identify words and subjects which will later be used to serve users related ads.

The new terms and conditions will also allow Yahoo! to analyse messages sent by non-yahoo.com account holders, and the firm has stated that it’s up to its customers to warn family, friends and businesses who send them e-mails that these may be analysed by its technology.

Sarah Kidner, the magazine's Editor, described the move as a blatant intrusion of privacy: ‘People should have the right to send messages without Yahoo! snooping through them,’ she added.

Yahoo! customers will receive a pop-up asking them to agree to its new terms and conditions, but they will be able to opt out of targeted ads through a link on its site.

Its new T&C 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. This includes Mail and Messenger content already stored in your account. Unless expressly stated otherwise, Yahoo! Mail customers will not be allowed to opt out of this feature.’

Yesterday, a group of 13 UK politicians tabled a motion expressing concern about online privacy, with particular reference to WPP’s plans to build a database of half a billion Internet users for behavioural ad targeting purposes.