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July 10, 2011

Yahoo accused of reading personal mails

New feature scans emails to gather data for targeted display advertising

By CBR Staff Writer

Consumer rights organisation Which? Computing has accused Yahoo that it reads users’ emails to sell advertisements without their knowledge.

According to the BBC Yahoo has started offering a new service that uses a spam blocking technology to scan personal emails to learn about the user and target the user with display advertising based on the user profile.

Which? Computing’s Sarah Kidner has said that Yahoo has indulged in "a blatant intrusion of privacy. People should have the right to send messages without Yahoo snooping through them."

However, a Yahoo spokesperson told the BBC that the company asks users for permission.

Yahoo also says that it is up to the users to to warn family, friends, and businesses that the emails they send may be scanned for content, reports the Daily Mail.

Which? in-house lawyer Georgina Nelson rebuffed such a measure.

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Nelson told the Daily Mail, ‘The obligation to notify those who email you that their message will be scanned is nonsensical and unrealistic. When exactly are you supposed to do this?’

Big Brother Watch director Daniel Hamilton told the Daily Mail that Yahoo should act before it is too late.

He said, "It’s extremely disappointing that Yahoo has opted to intrude on privacy in this way.

"Web users have a right not to see their personal messages trawled through in order to boost Yahoo’s advertising revenue.

"Yahoo should abandon these changes before the crucial bond of trust between it and its users is damaged beyond repair."

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