Two months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was letting third-party developers into Gmail accounts’ emails. Google has responded to these reports, saying that emails will only be accessed third-parties if the users permit them. Today, we’ve learned that Yahoo and AOL are scanning emails for data that can be sold to advertisers.
According to Mashable, the Wall Street Journal has another report that points to Oath, owner of both Yahoo and AOL, pitching to advertisers a service that analyzes over 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data within. The pitch suggests that AOL users’ emails will also be included.
In the wake of privacy concerns after the whole Cambridge Analytica episode, Oath, a Verizon subsidiary, seems to be going the opposite direction of Google and a number of other tech giants. Instead of assuring users that their data will be safe, Oath seems to be digging its heels in, and even doubling down on scanning emails for ad targeting.
The reports further states that Doug Sharp, Oath’s Vice President of data, measurements, and insights said email scanning has become one of the company’s most effective methods for improving ad targeting. He went on to say that this is part of a trade-off users make to use the email service, and it doesn’t seem like paying users are exempt from having their emails scanned either.
Of course, there is the extra step you can take to opt out of letting your emails be scanned for ad data. But, as Sharp points out, if you haven’t already done so then you probably don’t really care. It’s an extremely blunt thing for a corporate person to say, but it’s hard to deny that he has a point.