Yahoo and Google have both been involved in litigation in the U.S. for allegedly inspecting and mining information from emails carried over their free email services, yahoo.com and gmail.com.
It’s not apparent that any human being is opening and inspecting the emails; it appears that it’s simply an automated review to obtain information regarding the interests of the senders and recipients for the purpose of targeted marketing.
On June 1st, Yahoo required its users to upgrade to the company’s newest platform, which allows Yahoo to scan and analyze every email, sent or received. According to Yahoo’s help page, users who upgrade agree to let the company perform “content scanning and analyze your communications content,” in order to target ads, products, and perform “abuse protection.”
Basically, any messages found to be “disturbing” by Yahoo’s algorithms can flag a user as a threat, bully, or worse. In addition, Yahoo can search though emails for personal information, with rights to share or hold onto the information indefinitely!
Upon signing up for the service, Gmail users agree to allow regular scanning of their emails by Google in order for the company to target ads and products. However, non-Gmail users that happen to send or receive emails with Gmail, haven’t necessarily agreed to Google’s privacy invasion.
In fact, during a court filing, Google stated that people sending email to any of its 425 million Gmail users have “no reasonable expectation” that their communications with the recipient will be confidential!
So what should you do? Just know that these providers have more access to information in your emails than you may realize. In this regard, it’s important to ensure your emails are deplete of confidential or revealing information.