AOL Takes Another Step Toward Becoming Big Brother

In case you don't read the "terms of service" fine print when registering for websites, signing up for newsletters or, in this instance, registering for an AOL Instant Messenger account, this little tidbit of info might make you change your ways. Buried within the new "Terms Of Service" agreement for AOL Instant Messenger users, is a provision that grants AOL permission to take your AIM conversations and do whatever they please with them. Yes, AOL has granted itself permission to steal your personal communications.

Those who are even a little tech savvy know that any communications via email or IM are not secure and as a result, one needs to be aware of sharing sensitive info via those outlets for fear that info will be poached by some 13 year old computer genius who uses his powers for evil. But as blogger Ben Stanfield has pointed out, most of us never considered that we needed to be wary of the multi-national corporation providing us with those services in the first place.

See for yourself. From AOL "Terms Of Service":

Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. 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.

Thanks to Stanfield and other bloggers who have so kindly pointed this out.

And if you're in a band and are using IM to pass demos back and forth, I'd be careful. The way that reads, it looks like AOL can take credit for your songs and leave you SOL.


AOL Takes Another Step Toward Becoming Big Brother