Yahoo and AOL’s new privacy policy allows email scanning

Right on the tail of the Facebook hearings comes the news that Yahoo and AOL can scan your emails for marketing purposes under the new privacy policy rolled out by Oath, which oversees both brands under the parent company, Verizon. The privacy policy gives Yahoo and AOL permission to scan emails (including interactions with financial institutions), SMS messages, posts, photos, and attachments in order to provide users with targeted ads.

In a post Cambridge Analytica world, consumers are paying more attention to user agreements and privacy policies, and for good reason. The services we receive for free from websites such as Yahoo, AOL, and Facebook, may not be worth the price of our data. It stands to reason that these websites must make their money somewhere, and if they don’t charge directly for their services, most likely their revenue comes from advertising that is dependent on the data we provide.

As we’re learning more about how our personal data can be harvested and used for a variety of purposes, some of which we may not agree with, many consumers are looking for companies that provide straightforward services unrelated to digital marketing.

Get to know the privacy policies

Consumers are asking questions about how their data is used. We’ve even received a few questions at Hushmail, asking if we scan emails. We don’t scan emails for the purpose of advertising, of course, but we encourage these questions. Our response is to never assume your communications are private unless specifically stated to be so in a privacy policy.

Hushmail explicitly states the following in its Privacy Policy, under How we use your data:

We do not analyze the email in your account for the purpose of displaying advertisements.

Under this same section we explain in eight clear statements exactly what you can expect when it comes to Hushmail’s use of your data. We encourage you to read through our Privacy Policy. It will give you a renewed understanding of why you’re using Hushmail for your personal and business communications. Our policy doesn’t try to convince you to use our services or buy into a community fuelled by targeted ads, and it doesn’t try to obfuscate an underlying intention. We’ve written our Privacy Policy so it’s easy to read and understand. If you find parts of it confusing, contact us, and we’ll be happy to explain.

At Hushmail, our services are crystal clear

We provide secure, encrypted, confidential email for an annual fee starting at $49.98 for our Hushmail Premium account. Our accounts go up in price from there, offering a variety of services and features, including email archiving, Hush Secure Forms, and a BAA for HIPAA compliance. This is how Hushmail makes money, not through targeted ads.

We will always update you immediately if there’s a change to the terms of our Privacy Policy. Our culture at Hushmail springs from a deeply rooted belief in privacy. We fully believe that you have the right to know where your data is and how it’s being used at all times.

As we stated in our last post regarding the Facebook hearings, we are hopeful that these stories about excessive data harvesting are bringing about a new awareness of how personal data is obtained, stored, and used. While many of us have become accustomed to the big names such as Yahoo, AOL, and Facebook, there are other options. As more consumers decide it’s important to limit access to their data, the number of other options will continue to grow. Hushmail is proud to be one of those other options. Please contact us at any time if you have questions about our Privacy Policy.

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