I want to be real clear… this is about email service, not the Internet Service Provider (ISP) service. You don’t have a great choice for ISP services in our area, but you do have a few more services for email and you don’t have to use the email services of your ISP. And while the Frontier issue might be an isolated area, AOL and YAHOO are all over the country so pay attention!
Rather than me going through well documented observations about these OATH policies, I am just going to refer you to the observations of others that you can find on this Google search page:
I thought this one From Tom’s Hardware was pretty good. Brief and to the point.:
So what should you do?
Free email services are going to scan your mail… cuz they need your information to play mind games with you to get you to buy their stuff or someone else’s stuff… You might argue (not with me, not with me, but you might argue) that email provided by your ISP (i.e., Frontier, Spectrum, …) is not free, but that’s not how they see it. They are providing internet access for a price and giving you mailboxes ‘cuz they’re benevolent… Riiiight. It’s not intuitively obvious that Spectrum is any better, but I do not find a clause in their terms of service that requires me to individually sue them if I think they are abusing the use of my data. So, at this point I am not going to tell the TWC.com and Rochester.rr.com email folks you should think about another situation, but keep an eye out for trouble because if AOL, YAHOO, and Frontier get away with this without losing a bunch of customers, you can bet the others are going to try the same thing.
My solution… I use my own business server for email. It is on a shared server, but to the best of my knowledge, no one is mining my email for information to sell products to me. However, it is on my list of places to read more carefully with I get time. This doesn’t totally protect my privacy because any time I write to a gmail, yahoo, aol, … user, the Big Sistas are watching. But I am pretty sure my business to business mail is not subject to free-mail scanning.
You can pay for your own email service through a provider that has a policy not to read your mail. I found services for as little as $30/year. I found recommendations for some companies, but I currently do not have a paid service recommendation… Actually, I am frustrated enough with the “baffle ’em with BS” marketing on these services, I am considering starting one of my own for friends and family and our policy will be simple… we won’t be reading your mail for any reason unless someone hands me a subpoena … or you address it to me. If any one would be interested in that, let me know and if there are enough with interest, I will think harder.
According to my research, Icloud is not scanning and collecting data from icloud.com mail accounts. So if you have an apple device and created an icloud.com email, that might be a place to transition… Finally! A good reason to pay the extra for Apple… You’ll have to do the business case for yourselves whether it will be cost effective over just paying for an email service. I find other things annoying about Apples business model, so I ‘m sticking to more open architectures for my solutions… to each his own though. If you like Apple, I am not a bigot when It comes to providing services. I will help you with those products too.
If you want to continue with a “free” email service that sells “you” as their product… the best recommendation I can give you is to get set up with gmail and learn how to use their tools to control what privacy things you can control. They at least are not trying to force customers to sign agreements that effectively gives them ownership to anything you store on their servers and no right to complain, although I vaguely remember them trying to do that too. For $49, I’ll help you for the next 30 days to get your email all transitioned to a new service or just watch for blogs here that tell you how to do it.
There will be nothing to stop any free service from rewriting their policies in the future. Actually, I expect that there might be a little volatility in the “free” email market for a bit. I know that changing a primary email address is as annoying as changing your physical mailing address, probably more so knowing the number of places you have to contact is probably 20-fold higher. Then you should keep and monitor the old address until you are sure everyone you want to find you, can find you. There is a pretty reasonable solution to that problem. I have customers who long ago purchased their own domain name (e.g., jones.us, smith.net, 3puppies.com) and I taught them how to create aliases with their own domain (e.g. my email address firstname.lastname@example.org just send the email to my email@example.com). An alias redirects your mail to any physical email server you choose. What this means, is that you can keep your email address the same and direct it to a different service if you get annoyed with your current service. Keeping history is a little trickier, but ihaving a personal domain frees you from having to change your email address every time you move your service. It’s kind of like having a post office box for your snail mail. You can move around as often as you can stand to pack your things and your mailing address stays the same (presuming you are moving within reach of the physical post office where the box is located.) The internet is not as physically limiting as a post office box, so you can create an alias and use it as long as you want to be found to send your mail to any “physical” email box on the internet. A personal domain can be obtained for $5-10/year if you manage it yourself.
I think I have just outline the next few blog topics. I will get to those topics as soon as I can… Have to help the paying customers first. Let me know if you want to be one of those. I will send you an estimate.