The two companies, which are now joined under the Oath banner and owned by Verizon, have a massive email scanning operation going on, reports the Wall Street Journal. Every email you receive in your Yahoo or AOL inbox is read by Oath’s software to extract data so the company can better target ads at you. While this practice is nothing new, it’s increasingly frowned upon by users, which is why Google ditched its similar email scanning program for Gmail last year. But as the WSJ points out, Oath’s email scanning goes much deeper than Google’s ever did:
“Yahoo mined users’ emails in part to discover products they bought through receipts from e-commerce companies such as Amazon.com. In 2015, Amazon stopped including full itemized receipts in the emails it sends customers, partly because the company didn’t want Yahoo and others gathering that data for their own use.”
While Oath says health and medical information contained in emails isn’t scanned, it didn’t clarify if other sensitive information–like financial information from bank statements–is scanned by its systems. If Oath’s scanning of your Yahoo and AOL email makes you nervous–and it should, as Yahoo had two major data breaches revealed last year–then you may want to jump ship to a less Orwellian email service, like ones provided by Microsoft or Apple, which say they don’t scan users’ emails.