Mar. 12th, 2005
AOL: All your privacy are belong to us  
If you've not already read your daily slashdot feed, you may not have heard that AOL has quietly changed its TOS for the use of its AIM product which we all know and love.
In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.

Obviously, that sounds awful. People treat IM clients as they do their cell phone (they probably shouldn't, but they—myself included—do). Now I should point out that in case you aren't aware, it's ridiciulously easy to eaves drop on IM conversations (especially in a single subnet like on a corporate network). Unless you and the person you're speaking with are using some form of encryption, the conversation between your computer and AOL's are sent in the clea, so you shouldn't expect privacy. However, you probably don't expect AOL to archive and have the right to disclose those conversations.

Now, I'm not sure of AOL's real intent here, but I don't think it's as malicious as we might think (although I think they deserve the lashing they're going to come into work to on Monday monring as pressure to change this awful policy). Here's why: it just reads odd for referring to an IM conversation "by posting content...." What I suspect is that this policy was borne of their expanding the free featureset for free AIM users (particularly publishing tools like a new blogging tool) and possibly from high profile incidents involving data theft.

The job of a corporate lawyer is to protect the company, and even if they don't plan on using data in a bad way, I can totally see the lawyer thinking "Well, I can't control the actions of our 84,900 employees. So while I don't want one of our employees selling our customer data to some ID theft ring or spammer, I want to reduce our liability if something should happen." If they write that policy and don't consult with their web team (or if their web team just doesn't think about this), these policies get published, and companies get slashdotted (in the bad way, not the good way).

I kinda doubt (and hope) that AOL's intent isn't to harvest their users private IM conversations for some nefarious purposes.

Anywho... one thing I do know is that I'd hate to be working in that department at AOL on Monday morning.
Mood: geeky
Listening to: Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
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Zack: sadamboardman on March 13th, 2005 - 12:47 pm
"..... archive and have the right to disclose those conversations....."

It will aloud them to monitor and disclose more freely certain people of interest and disclose their illegal activities.
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driftwoodsun on March 13th, 2005 - 06:11 pm
My main concern would be what effect, if any, this has on the copyright I own on anything I would discuss over AIM, like, say, the thesis of a paper I plan to publish, or the broad outline of the plot for a screenplay I plan to write.

By talking about it over AIM, am I waiving my copyright protections? The way it's written, it seems as though I am.

Those few little lines give AOL control (and possibly ownership) over a vast amount of constantly accruing intellectual property.
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xed_geekxed_geek on March 13th, 2005 - 09:29 pm
Not certain how this would work but as I understand it (IANAL) publicly posting a paper or idea starts a clock of 1 year for you to formalize it or patent it. It doesn't wave the rights just forces you to hurry up a bit. Somehow I don't think that they could force you to hand over your ideas at the door.
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mark or markymarkormarky on March 13th, 2005 - 06:16 pm
the 2nd term of mr bush has only just begun and obviously Corporate America has only just begun to squeeze the nuts of the citizens. oh yeh it's gonna get outrageous these next few years. Business has NEVER had, recently, such a fucktoy as bush who longs to take it up his ass by the Corporate dildo.
the peeps who brought u michael powell's FCC and the lame, hypocritical, wasteful, atrocious Reactionaryism and sellout to "moral" America, while attempting to allow fewer fat men control of the nation's media, will be screeching with delight on their way to the bank as they cluck on their cell phones in Enron-speak.
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xed_geekxed_geek on March 13th, 2005 - 09:38 pm
Pretty sure this is a result of someone at the Department of Homeland Security saying "Oh S***! Terrorists are using AIM to send messages!" So they forced AOL (and probably Yahoo and MSN) to log all messages for further inspection (probably under the guise of the patriot act). So AOL, being a greedy corp, decided that since they have to log all this data (probably at considerable expense), they are damned well going to use it for something that generates revenue. Can probably expect to see 'targeted' advertising from AOL (or some outsourcer) any time now. Something like if you AIM your friend about buying a house you will get mortgage spam for a year or something like that.
But I may be wrong.
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Gantriochgantrioch on March 14th, 2005 - 04:12 am
What I think is funny is how everyone is going to get angry about this when they didn't get angry about the Patriot Act. So weird.
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The People's Exhibit A: presidential flip offdavidology on March 15th, 2005 - 12:43 am
Tuan, why do you hate America?
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Gantriochgantrioch on March 15th, 2005 - 01:47 am
I hope that this is sarcastic/facetious.
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The People's Exhibit Adavidology on March 15th, 2005 - 02:07 am
of course it is.

since when do I like the Patriot Act (or really anything the shrub has done).
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Gantriochgantrioch on March 15th, 2005 - 02:08 am
You've never mentioned the Patriot Act so I wasn't too sure.

<3. Much <3.
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The People's Exhibit Adavidology on March 15th, 2005 - 02:11 am

you missed my funny.
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Gantriochgantrioch on March 15th, 2005 - 02:16 am
Um. Shrub?
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driftwoodsun on March 18th, 2005 - 07:11 am
I hate the Patriot Act, too.

But all I've managed to do with that hatred at this point is become redundant.

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eviltickles on March 14th, 2005 - 06:04 pm
great now i am going to have to encrypt all of my communiques regarding the overthrow of the well, you know...
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vwjustinvwjustin on March 14th, 2005 - 08:35 pm
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geekguy on March 15th, 2005 - 08:09 pm
Under pressure from slashdot, bloggers, and the internet community, AOL as done an about face and is trying to claim that they never meant to imply that users of AIM have no privacy. They've made some changes, but some things still don't jibe. Oh well, its not as if I've ever trusted them not to read my IMs before all this. If you are going to use the IM service of a large business conglomerate, do you honestly trust them to keep your IMs private? You're sending plaintext over the internet if you and your friends don't use encryption, so you SHOULD assume anyone and his dog could read it. Here's a a href=",1759,1776146,00.asp">link</a> to the article from /.
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