Verizon's Oath, owner of Yahoo and AOL, is reportedly scanning emails to sell rich data to advertisers. The company is pitching this data to advertisers, as it includes a rich pool full of information on buying habits, customer interests, and other consumer product related matters. Oath reportedly is pitching data from almost 200 million Yahoo Mail and AOL accounts to advertisers, and is claiming this as a justified exchange for using the expensive email system for free. The company claims to only scan retail emails.
Wall Street Journal reports that Doug Sharp, Oath's Vice President of Data, Measurements & Insights said that scanning of commercial emails is part of the trade-off users make in exchange for free online services, and in this manner, relevant ads reach them as well. "Email is an expensive system. I think it's reasonable and ethical to expect the value exchange, if you've got this mail service and there is advertising going on," Sharp told the publication.
Commercial emails include mails from retailers, or mass promotional emails that are usually sent by businesses to which the user has made past purchases, or subscribed to. Fortunately, users can opt out of this scanning if they so prefer. Head over to Ad Interest Manager page and select opt out, under both 'Your Advertising Choices' and the 'On Yahoo' tabs. Ensure you opt out of both these options, or else the email scanning won't stop. Interestingly, even premium Yahoo Mail users are being scanned, and they need to undergo the same process for opting out.
Alternatively, you can also switch to other email options, the most common being Gmail and Outlook. Google confirmed last year that it has stopped scanning emails for advertising revenue, and Microsoft has also confirmed that it never has scanned emails for data.