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AOL Changing IM Terms of Service

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the at-least-they're-trying dept.

Privacy 229

gpmac writes "AOL has responded to the recent slashdot attention. America Online Inc. plans to make three small but significant modifications to the terms of service for its AIM instant messaging product to head off a firestorm of privacy-related criticisms. The tweaks to the terms of service will be made in the section titled "Content You Post" and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL."

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Nice (4, Funny)

wandernotlost (444769) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945463)

They must have read my complaints in my away message.

Re:Nice (1)

Hobadee (787558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945980)

*applauds*

They must have read my complaints in my away message.
Same here! They shall now also be able to not read my praise of this in my new away message!

Kudos AOL! It's nice and refreshing to see a large company listen to the general (err... Slashdot) public. (Even if it was a misunderstanding to begin with.)

They came, they saw.... (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945470)

and they fixed. Kudos to AOL for this one. Now, if only they could do more about the spammers on their network...

Re:They came, they saw.... (1, Interesting)

MrDomino (799876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946115)

I'm actually kind of disappointed by this; the new terms seem more misleading to me than the old. It's important to keep in mind on IM services--and on the Internet in general--that anything you transmit unencrypted can be accessed and read by the general public. Now that AOL has stated that it won't read peoples' IMs, the uninformed masses have had their false sense of privacy restored. What, however, happens when the information stored (but not read) is requested of AOL by subpoena? What if the information is cracked out of the company by a malicious user? What of the several computers that have access to your messages in plain text as they are routed through the Internet?

The only way to keep your sensitive data and conversations private on the web is to encrypt them [sourceforge.net] ; any statement of privacy over plain-text media is at best erroneous, and at worst dangerously misleading.

Take THAT AOL! (0)

chrislees (791927) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945473)

Slashdot always wins in the wrong run!

Too little, too late (5, Funny)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945474)

I've already stopped flirting with girls on IM. Although, I am working on a secret code. People that intercept my instant messages won't be able to understand a word I'm saying. I'll replace "you" with "u", "that's funny" with "lol", "skate" witk "sk8." Things like that. All in the name of privacy.

Re:Too little, too late (5, Informative)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945511)

Unfortunately, Microsoft has already shown people how to decode [microsoft.com] these messages.

Re:Too little, too late (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945606)

Unfortunately, Microsoft has already shown people how to decode [microsoft.com] these messages.

Circumventing a content protection scheme. Shame on them. Where's the DMCA when you need it?

Re:Too little, too late (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945637)

Sorry; the DMCA protects big corporations from criminals like you and me. It doesn't protect you and me from big corporations that decode our communications.

Not unless you have a few spare millions of bucks to spend on a decade-long series of court cases.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945635)

Foiled again! I'll get you Microsoft, you and that dog of yours!

hmmmm... maybe then I'll construct a language where I'll drop consonants from the ends of my words, and on occasional words, I'll take the first consonant-sound of the word I mean to say, and replace the rest of the word with "izzle". It'll be so inane that Microsoft will never guess it....

fo' shizzle.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Funny)

canwaf (240401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945956)

I have a very similar system.

First I move all the consonants up to the first vowel in the word I am "translating" to the end of the word. After that is completely I append "ay" to the end of the word.

Microsoft will never know is being written... ever!

Coupled with the unbreakable rot 13 code, it's almost impossible to read.

Lbhnl nirunl bganl hfgwnl rnqenl vfgunl ragraprfnl.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

coolcold (805170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946053)

t|-|3Y r $t!11 4 10|\|9 \/\/4y 2 90 LLOLOLLOLO!11!1!!!

Re:Too little, too late (1)

Feynman (170746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945589)

--
Quid festinatio swallonis est aetherfuga inonusti?
Africus aut Europaeus?

Maybe you'd be better off encoding all of your instant messages as quotes from British comedies translated into Latin.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945607)

Without touching the latin dictionary, that's a Python quote, isn't it?

Re:Too little, too late (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945712)

How'd you ever figure that out?!?

Re:Too little, too late (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945632)

Great. Using AOL kid speak on to get around AOL... any other gr8 ideas?

From TFA... (5, Insightful)

leonmergen (807379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945476)

"We're not making any policy changes. We're making some linguistic changes to clarify certain things and explain it a little better to our users," AOL spokesperson Andrew Weinstein told eWEEK.com.

Hmmm, is it just me or does this look like making things look better ? From my experience, lawyers usually pay a lot of attention on the things they write, and especially these kind of mistakes are the ones that plainly don't happen in published legal documents...

... unless they wanted to trick you into it, ofcourse.

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945546)

This article seemed slightly, but significantly different than an update that was on cnet's news yesterday...

That article (sorry, too lazy to find it now) seemed to indicate that the anti-privacy things in the TOS were copied/pasted in from the Hotornot service, and they were meant to apply only to things that you posted on a site like that, not IM chat; it seemed to emphasize that it was an error that needed to be clarified as not referring to IMs, not merely a linguistic error.

Re:From TFA... (5, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945547)

From my experience, lawyers usually pay a lot of attention on the things they write, and especially these kind of mistakes are the ones that plainly don't happen in published legal documents... ... unless they wanted to trick you into it, ofcourse.
No, you are full of crap. If a lawyer says, "Sign this document, and we'll execute contract A," and then has you sign a document actually only authorizing contract B, the signed document would be thrown out in court. If the lawyer knew about it, he might be liable, and he might be guilty of fraud.

Once AOL publically said, "No, we have not and will not read AIM chats," it better have been the truth, otherwise they could get turned inside out in court. No matter what their privacy policy said.

Re:From TFA... (1)

leonmergen (807379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945697)

No, you are full of crap. If a lawyer says, "Sign this document, and we'll execute contract A," and then has you sign a document actually only authorizing contract B, the signed document would be thrown out in court. If the lawyer knew about it, he might be liable, and he might be guilty of fraud.

But in this case, isn't it rather one contract you agreed to, which had a certain sentence which could be interpreted as 'all your messages are belong to us', which they now changed ?

As in, if the lawyer knew about this, how is he guilty when people could have read the privacy policy, and agreed to it ( ok, true, very few people actually *do* read it ) ?

Re:From TFA... (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945913)

But in this case, isn't it rather one contract you agreed to, which had a certain sentence which could be interpreted as 'all your messages are belong to us', which they now changed?
Yes, exactly, except that they also publicly claimed that their privacy policy could not be interpreted as "all your messages are belong to us". If someone went after AOL for repurposing their AIM conversation, and AOL, in court, said, "But look at our privacy policy!", plaintiff would only have to say, "But look at your press release, you lying sonofabitch." Judges brook no such bullshit.

Re:From TFA... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946057)

In a way you are right. With enough time and money in such a case you can prevail. But often such clauses could get a case thrown out before even being accepted as "obviously frivolous". (I'm not quite sure what I mean here...I might mean it would be hard to find a lawyer willing to take the case, partially because when he first looked at it it would be an obvious loser, and partially because it would be a threat to his license).

But even where you are right, this makes any case much more expensive to prosecute. Yes, you can win eventually, but eventually can take a long time. Just look at SCOX...that case was a clear loser before it was even in court, SCOX has come up with NO evidence, and IBM is still being made to pay millions in legal fees (including discovery costs). And SCOX has no case at all. NONE! They aren't even consistent about what they're claiming IBM did!

Re:From TFA... (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945730)

No, you are full of crap. If a lawyer says, "Sign this document, and we'll execute contract A," and then has you sign a document actually only authorizing contract B, the signed document would be thrown out in court. If the lawyer knew about it, he might be liable, and he might be guilty of fraud.

Only if you have proof to back up your claim. Otherwise it's your word against the lawyer's. And it would require you to stand in open court and say "Yes, your honor. I am an idiot who signed a document without reading it."

LK

Re:From TFA... (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945789)

If admitting you are an idiot (which you are for not reading) gets you out of a difficult legal issue, I'd think that you'd suck up your pride and admit it. The real issue isn't whether you can admit it, its whether a judge will believe you.

Re:From TFA... (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945945)

Or "Yes, your honor, I am a totally ordinary person that could not properly interpret the legal meaning of this document."

And that's why you record all your conversations with lawyers :)

Re:From TFA... (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945633)

It seems that legal and marketing simply didn't talk to each other.

The legal department wanted to be sure they had the right to do everything they might do, even if they're not remotely likely to do so. Their only concern is that they don't get sued.

Unfortunately they didn't consider what the response public would be is someone actually read the legalese. Considering that isn;t their job. The public image of AOL is a marketting matter. Not a legal matter.

As is often the case in large companies, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.

Re:From TFA... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945718)

From what some people posted in the original /. discussion, it appears that the terms never applied to IM communication.

I think the problem is not that it wasn't worded clearly before from a legal standpoint, but that people weren't paying enough attention to the part that said that the new terms only applay to this, this, and that other service, which didn't include AIM proper.

4th post (-1, Troll)

blueskies (525815) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945478)

4th post

Blag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945480)

whoever still uses instant pestering doesn't deserve any rights.

Re:Blag (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945570)

whoever still uses instant pestering doesn't deserve any rights.
No, it's "whoever uses AO-Hell doesn't deserve any rights".

This keeps on, everyone's going to start running their own private chat servers instead of using the "big boys". Fuck 'em.

[tt].

Re:Blag (4, Funny)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945674)

"He who uses AOL for security deserves neither AOL nor security." - Benjamin Franklin

Re:Blag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945729)

True,
also if gmail keep indexing private email conversation,
then everyone's going to start running their own private email servers instead of using the "big boys".

Makes you wonder... (3, Interesting)

tabkey12 (851759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945481)

how the change ever was added in the first place? Overzealous legal department?

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

TorrentNinja (846388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945834)

I think this is pretty standard practice for any company. Like contract negotiation without negotiation with anyone. The company can construct a totally one-sided contract that people hardly ever read and just accept.

Once and a while people call BS and they might make an adjustment.

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946037)

When I was doing independent contract work, I took a gig where they wanted me to sign that any work I did belonged to them. It didn't matter if it was done on my own machine during hours I didn't bill to them. Needless to say, I crossed out those parts out of the contract before I signed. The responded that I couldn't do that and that I had to sign it as is or else I couldn't have the job. I told them that I couldn't do that since I had other clients and did also did work on my own projects. After quite a bit of complaining and threatening on their part, they eventually agreed and the parts were removed. It was amussing though that they kept threatening that I couldn't have the contract unless I signed it 'as is'. It was clear they had nobody else to do the work since they kept coming back.

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

Tsunayoshi (789351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945926)

Don't kid yourself, the only reason it was changed to exlude the private IM'ing was because of the bad publicity and outcry all over the internet and news channels...they are trying to spin it off as a 'mistake' to save public face.

"Justin Uberti, chief architect for AIM, also joined the discussion, admitting the controversial section of the terms of service was "vague" and needed to be reworded"

If he thought it was so vague, why the hell was the wordage ever approved in the 1st place? Probably because the guy never looked at them before they became (almost) frontpage news.

I don't know about you all ... (3, Interesting)

SengirV (203400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945482)

... But I don't have too many NON user-to-user conversations using IM. So am I free to say and do anything(talking to another on IM that is) without it ever coming back to haunt me?

Re:I don't know about you all ... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945528)

When you signed in, when you signed out, when you became idle, when you became busy etc etc.

Re:I don't know about you all ... (1)

xlsior (524145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945594)

[quote]When you signed in, when you signed out, when you became idle, when you became busy etc etc.[/quote] Your IP address.

Re:I don't know about you all ... (1)

ccharles (799761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945727)

So am I free to say and do anything(talking to another on IM that is) without it ever coming back to haunt me?

You are if you use an off-the-record plugin [cypherpunks.ca] .

Re:I don't know about you all ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945847)

AOL may not be reading it, but your isp, your friend's isp and the US government still are.

Re:I don't know about you all ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945869)

Sure, as long as no one is using a packet sniffer, keylogger or has a search warrant for your computer or the computer on the other end...

bye bye (3, Funny)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945483)

{Sound effect: chi-tunk}
donnyspi signed off at 13:56:26 PM

AOL's new motto (5, Funny)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945491)

"We AIM to Please!"

From information gathered by reading your private messages, we've decided to retract former policies.

Re:AOL's new motto (1)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945571)

Isn't that the motto of the Assassins conspiracy?

Re:AOL's new motto (1)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945630)

Thought that one was "If you run, you'll only die tired"?

For once (3, Insightful)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945493)

The collective voices of thousands of "Little People"(tm) made a differance on a huge company. This is a trend that I would love to see continue accross the board, a large company careing about their customers.
Props to AOL, looks like I can once again log in and chat without fear of them retaining rights to it.

Re:For once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11946028)

Next it would be great if we could have elections that aren't rigged. Maybe even paper ballots that can be counted by a human instead of pure electronic magic that has to be blinded trusted.

Re:For once (1)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946046)

Actually, it's more like "A bunch of bloggers got their panties in a knot over basically nothing" - that went into place over a *year* ago.

From TFA... (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945497)

Not to quote the lion's share of the article here, but there are some things that need to be seen...

The tweaks to the terms of service will be made in the section titled "Content You Post" and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL.

"We're not making any policy changes. We're making some linguistic changes to clarify certain things and explain it a little better to our users," AOL spokesperson Andrew Weinstein told eWEEK.com.

The modifications will use similar language from the AIM privacy policy to "make it clear that AOL does not read private user-to-user communications," Weinstein said.


[...]

More importantly, Weinstein said a blunt and inelegant line that reads "You waive any right to privacy" will be deleted altogether.

"That's a phrase that should not have been in that section in the first place. It clearly caused confusion, with good reason," Weinstein conceded.


[...]

Justin Uberti, chief architect for AIM, also joined the discussion, admitting the controversial section of the terms of service was "vague" and needed to be reworded.

Uberti explained on his Weblog that the amount of IM traffic on the AIM network "is on the order of hundreds of gigabytes a day."

"It would be very costly, and we have no desire to record all IM traffic. We don't do it," Uberti wrote.

For AIM users who remain distrustful, Uberti pointed out that the application offers Direct IM (aka Send IM Image) and Secure IM in all recent versions.

"In other words, you can send your IMs in such a way that they never go through our servers, and/or are encrypted with industry-standard SSL and S/MIME technology. I know this since I designed these features. There are no backdoors; I would not have permitted any," Uberti said.

And directly from... (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945543)

...Juberti's blog [aol.com] (the chief architect for the AIM service):

AIM Privacy and Slashdot

OK, I am getting tired of hearing about how "The new AIM TOS allows AOL to have all rights to anything you say on IM, AOL reads/stores all your IMs, etc."

I take this kind of personally, because that is not something I would want to be associated with.

First off, that blurb in the TOS only refers to AIM forum posts, not IMs. I agree that it is vague and should be reworded to be clear.

Second, the amount of IM traffic is on the order of hundreds of gigabytes a day. It would be very costly, and we have no desire to record all IM traffic. We don't do it.

Thirdly, if you still don't trust us, we have Direct IM (aka Send IM Image) and Secure IM in all recent versions of the AIM software. In other words, you can send your IMs in such a way that they never go through our servers, and/or are encrypted with industry-standard SSL and S/MIME technology. I know this since I designed these features. There are no backdoors; I would not have permitted any.

I am saying this as a concerned invidual, and not as a corporate mouthpiece.

Re:And directly from... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945586)

That's all very nice, but we have only his word - yet another reason why OSS is superior when you are concerned about privacy. I don't particularly trust anyone who works for AOL, not because I think they are automatically bad people, but because AOL has done enough bad things that the odds that any individual employee of AOL is "bad" are too high to carry on in any other fashion. Paranoid? Maybe, but paranoia is often a useful policy.

Re:And directly from... (1)

airConditionedGypsy (703864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945676)

Agreed.

The encryption is actually end-to-end, so AOL doesn't have a prayer of intercepting and decoding your conversation, especially if you don't use their client and instead use GAIM [sourceforge.net] and its crypto plugin [sourceforge.net] .

Re:And directly from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945880)

Mod parent up please!
"Gaim-Encryption uses NSS to provide transparent RSA encryption as a Gaim plugin."

Re:And directly from... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946116)

It's my understanding that GAIM has it's weaknesses, and that you should use something else instead. Unfortunately, I wasn't interested enough to remember either what the crypto weakness of GAIM was, or what the alternate client was that was recommended.

I was, however, mentioned during the prior /. discussion, if you're interested enough to ferret through that.

Re:And directly from... (1)

prizog (42097) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945993)

AOL could easily afford to store hundreds of gigs per day. If they're sticking it on SATA HDs, they can store 200 GB/day for about $40k/year. Call it twice that for redundancy. That's nothing in AOL terms.

Re:And directly from... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946094)

AOL could easily afford to store hundreds of gigs per day. If they're sticking it on SATA HDs, they can store 200 GB/day for about $40k/year.

And because they can do it, they of course are doing it?

...

Re:From TFA... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945970)

The tweaks to the terms of service will be made in the section titled "Content You Post" and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL.

Amidst all this talk of privacy, people seem to be missing the significant copyright issue in this story. AOL is claiming that they own all the rights, i.e., they own the copyright, for anything "posted" to a discussion.

So if you copy a brief exchange in an AOL discussion, and send the exchange to someone else (or post it elsewhere), you have violated AOL's claimed copyright for that text.

Ordinarily, public discussions are, well, public. If you're using AOL, this may not be true. You may have no right to keep a copy of a discussion or to share it with anyone else. As soon as you post a message, it becomes AOL's property, and you have no right to use it at all.

This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened. Remember a year or two back, when MSN customers discovered that MSN was extracting things from customer email (mostly images) and using them in advertising? MSN claimed that they could do this legally, because their TOS stated clearly that any data stored on an msn.com machine was MSN's property.

There was a big fuss, and MSN seems to have backed off. But this sort of claim on customers' messages has yet to be tested in court, and many corporations are including such clauses in their contracts. This may be legal in the US and other countries. If so, you may not own the copyright to your own messages. Sending a message may constitute assigning the copyright to the message service (AOL in this case).

OTOH, if you think the file-sharing issue is fun, wait until AOL starts firing off C&D letters to people who make copies of their own IM discussions ...

Don't you people watch Law and Order? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945515)

They have already proved in court, many many times, that you have no expectation of privacy in such things as email and instant messaging. I'm not sure why were even discussing this.

because (3, Insightful)

vena (318873) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945580)

common courtesy isn't always defined by law.

Re:Don't you people watch Law and Order? (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945661)

They have already proved in court, many many times, that you have no expectation of privacy in such things as email and instant messaging.

I haven't seen L&O for many years. Can anyone summarize an episode where email-privacy was featured?

(That kind of show is too repetitive to deserve an entry on Television Without Pity [television...utpity.com] , otherwise I could search for it there)

Re:Don't you people watch Law and Order? (2, Insightful)

MrLint (519792) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945663)

No expectation of privacy isnt the same as giving AOL to essentially republish everyone in any for forever.

Re:Don't you people watch Law and Order? (3, Insightful)

dinivin (444905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945686)

It's a freakin' TV show. A good TV show, but just a TV show. It is not reality, and should not be the basis for any real legal opinion.

Dinivin

Re:Don't you people watch Law and Order? (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945763)

They have already proved in court, many many times, that you have no expectation of privacy in such things as email and instant messaging. I'm not sure why were even discussing this.

"Law and Order"? If I thought you where an US citizen (sorry, but there are many more Americans than US citizens) I would have to believe that you are serious. But since you clearly are European (you know, from the "old Europe" where governments actually listen to the population), I'll have to mod you as +1 Funny.

So does AOL listen? (5, Insightful)

jcm (4767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945521)

Hopefully folks will appreciate the amount of sway that a good argument does have at AOL. If it wasn't for public discussion the TOS probably would not have been changed. But the public discussion happened and there will now be a more specific TOS statements. I wish folks would always give AOL a chance instead of immediately bashing. Was this enough to buy some good will from folks for the future?

Blah (1)

suparjerk (784861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945525)

time to recruit the rest of my friends to my WASTE network...

what they forgot to mention (2, Insightful)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945558)

and will explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL

Was that, 75% of their chat sessions are user--to--server--to--user, which since they did not specifically specify are now exempt from privacy expectations.

OMG, LOL CUL8R d00d

Re:what they forgot to mention (1)

Laivincolmo (778355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945647)

I believe they meant that in public chatrooms or in forums, content that you say or post is public.

As explained in detail in the AIM Privacy Policy, AOL does not read your private online communications when you use any of the communication tools on AIM Products. If, however, you use these tools to post Content or other information to public areas on AIM Products (for example, in chat rooms or online message boards), other online users will have access to this information and Content.

They also mention..

AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating Content posted to public areas of AIM Products.

Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945585)


focussing on the customer and treating them with respect will get your buisness much further along than the current trend of corporate "slash and burn" policies

because things get ugly when you treat people with distain (see (MP|RI)AA) and dont give customers what they want, adapt and survive or carry on and get mugged/beaten and spat out by n billion internauts

You waive any right to privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945595)

More importantly, Weinstein said a blunt and inelegant line that reads "You waive any right to privacy" will be deleted altogether.

for last 6 years I had no privacy on AIM?

The Department of Homeland Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945599)

Yet another sign on that the DHS is putting out its tentacles to build a file of what you're up to nowadays. In the future there's no need to write your biography... you just order your issue from the DHS.

How it's being spun ... (2, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945603)

I'd already read a number of the stories about this at news.google.com, and very few of them mention any change to the TOS. Rather, they spin it as a customer "misunderstanding" of AOL's privacy rules. They've said that AOL is merely "clarifying" the rules, with no mention of any changes.

OTOH, there is now one story listed, from p2pnet.net, that uses the word "modify". So maybe the real story will be reported by a few tech news sources, while the general media will report it as a misunderstanding that is being clarified.

Re:How it's being spun ... (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946135)

It was a misunderstanding. AIM never wanted to spy on you. They just wanted legal protection for other aim products like (as the new TOS points out) rate a buddy.
Basically what they always ment to say is that if you put your picture on rate a buddy then we have the right to use that picture how ever we want.
The problem was that it wasn't clearly worded that only public postings could be used in this way by AOL.
So they aren't trying to spin this, what they're saying is the truth.

At least one thing your parents told you was true (4, Funny)

clickster (669168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945615)

See Timmy, if they work really really hard, a few hundred thousand people really can make a difference.

Nice to see (1)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945617)

It's really nice to see this happening. I wouldn't expect a big company to fold under public pressure over something like this. This is what the internet is meant for. Good job, Slashdot!

Re:Nice to see (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945668)

Gmail is indexing private email conversation. And no
amount of public pressure has caused them to change.

Big bad boy AOL changes. but "do-no-evil" Google
is allowed to get away with it.

Re:Nice to see (0, Troll)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945797)

Google indexes to serve ads. AIM tried to lay claim on our IP.

It is my sincere hope... (3, Funny)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945653)

That the corporate attorney that wrote the first 'draft' is on the street looking for another job right now.

Re:It is my sincere hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945754)

on the street looking for another job right now.

He might be better off checking inside buildings, as there are quite a few lawyers in those. ;)

Slashdot Union (1)

technomancer68 (865695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945659)

The slashdot effect is showing actual results muhahaha.. we should form a union and make our demands! :-)

Why don't they do something about the botnets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11945687)

It is nice that they are wasting their time on stupid shit like this, instead of bothering to do something about all the botnets that use links in away messages and profiles to spread.

Ditch them anyway - untrustworthy (0, Flamebait)

northwind (308027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945699)

I am canceling my use of AIM (through GAIM of course) anyway. It is almost certain that when this storm is over they make gradual changes to cancel user rights again.
Once on the slippery slope - always......

Re:Ditch them anyway - untrustworthy (1)

k3v0 (592611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945790)

you can always use the handy Gaim Encryption plugin [sourceforge.net]

because of SLASHDOT?!?!? (5, Interesting)

xxavierg (538582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945736)

"AOL has responded to the recent slashdot attention."

where in the article did it say that slashdot was the motivating force? i read that it was just received a "firestorm of privacy-related criticism". please, this might be a popular site, but don't take credit where none is deserved. especially when the article never mentioned any group in particular. i am sure slashdot was one of MANY groups, organization, sites, etc. that complained. but in no did it change it's policy just because of slashdot...

Re:because of SLASHDOT?!?!? (1)

TorrentNinja (846388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945863)

Yeah, I totally agree. AOL would only change its stance if they thought they might have some customers leave or prevent some customers from joining their service. AOL must know that no Slashdot reader is an AOL customer, eh, well I hope not :) That's why I doubt /. was the motivating factor. Maybe in the event CNet, CNN, Etc or something linking to a slashdot story where we get wider coverage to AOL customers.

Re:because of SLASHDOT?!?!? (1)

Vann_v2 (213760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945907)

Slashdot is the one who first published this, wasn't it? If that's the case then it's not unreasonable to take at least some credit for AOL's response.

Re:because of SLASHDOT?!?!? (2, Informative)

LakeSolon (699033) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946093)

Actually, 'acaben' of MacSlash [slashdot.org] fame was apparently the first one to mention it in this post [benstanfield.com] on his blog. [slashdot.org]

~Lake

Thank you...but... (1)

SamMichaels (213605) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945747)

AOL, thanks for hearing us out. We appreciate it.

Now what about Google Desktop, Deadaim, et al that record your conversation? People saying that they're home-free from being haunted by their words later on are sadly mistaken. Just because AOL isn't listening doesn't mean someone else isn't.

The power of /. (4, Funny)

PhatboySlim (862704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945756)

Now we just need to get the RIAA to read a few articles.

very costly (4, Insightful)

trb (8509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945770)

Uberti explained on his Weblog that the amount of IM traffic on the AIM network "is on the order of hundreds of gigabytes a day."

"It would be very costly, and we have no desire to record all IM traffic. We don't do it," Uberti wrote.

Ooh, hundreds of gigabytes a day, it would be very costly to record all that traffic. Gee, Dr. Evil, what does a 100 Gigabyte storage device cost? One Million Dollars?

Lets say it was 500 gigs per day just to meet in (1)

Polarism (736984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945846)

the middle.

That's ~183 Terabytes per year.

Do the math.

Re:Lets say it was 500 gigs per day just to meet i (1)

trb (8509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946001)

OK, a gig of disk costs a dollar, retail, more or less. 500 gigs, let's see. $500. $183k per year. You think that's a lot of money for AOL? That's like the loaded price of one senior engineer. (And that's before buying the disks in bulk or compressing the data.)

Re:very costly (2, Informative)

TorrentNinja (846388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945920)

Not even 1 million. Think about all that text. I'm sure you could compress the hell out of all that data and you would be able to store it. Why would they store raw data when they could compress it down? I bet they are able to Tap connections and peer into what people are talking about if they have the capability to monitor the raw traffic being sent. If it's an option they have then I'm sure some sysadmin or tech guys is going to be using it.

Re:very costly (1)

trb (8509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946090)

The biz about Dr. Evil and the "one million dollars" was a sarcastic reference to Austin Powers, who was similarly confused about both modern technology and how much things cost. (Sigh.)

Re:very costly (2, Funny)

rbochan (827946) | more than 9 years ago | (#11946107)

Maybe THAT'S what's on all those damn aol cds...

I believe you... (0, Flamebait)

Beefslaya (832030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945811)

"For AIM users who remain distrustful, Uberti pointed out that the application offers Direct IM (aka Send IM Image) and Secure IM in all recent versions......I know this since I designed these features. There are no backdoors; I would not have permitted any."

mmmmmm....yeaaahhh...suurrree...

So the Terms of Service don't apply to these either?

Pretty cool (1)

acaben (80896) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945836)

I'm feeling pretty pleased with the effects I've seen from a post on my previously barely-read blog [benstanfield.com] .

My latest post on the AIM matter celebrates another important victory by the blogosphere. In just two days, I helped to direct enough attention to the bad sections of AIM's privacy policy that they're now changing it. While I started the fracas, it wasn't me, but the cacophony of voices that picked up on the story and helped to get the attention of AOL.

I'll continue to try to be vigilant of what I'm agreeing to online, and hope others will, too. Privacy and ownership are important concepts, and this proves we can make sure that corporations respect us.

Nice start, but could have been done better (4, Interesting)

tji (74570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945966)

> explicitly exclude user-to-user chat sessions from the privacy rights an AIM user gives up to AOL.

That's an improvement. But, wouldn't it be better (from a user rights and privacy perspective) to explicitly state the areas they DO take ownership of your data in, rather than only excluding this one area? The default case should be that they don't own your data. With excluding only AIM, they still leave the default case for all other services to be that AOL owns your data.

It's sort of like opt-in vs. opt-out. I prefer that anyone using my personal information or data be required to get my explicit permission to use it, rather than requiring me to contact each and ask them to not use it.

Bad TOS bad for business (4, Interesting)

hca (735075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11945999)

Last summer we reviewed using Yahoo's small business product to host our site, and handle our email, but their TOS had the same boilerplate in it. It required that anything we had on their system -- files, website, emails was available for them to resell or republish as their own content. Obvious non-starter, and our complaint about the issue was ignored so we didn't use the service.
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