Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy America Online Communications The Internet Your Rights Online

AOL: We're Not Spying on AIM Users 310

Posted by timothy
from the but-your-tos-says-you-can dept.
The Llama King writes "America Online tells the Houston Chronicle's TechBlog that, despite a recent Slashdot posting to the contrary, AOL Instant Messenger's terms of service do not imply that the company has the right to use private IM communications, and the section quoted in the Slashdot article applies only to posts in public forums -- a common provision in most online publishers' terms of service. AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein says flatly: 'AOL does not read person-to-person communications.' He also says AIM communiques are never stored on AOL's hard drives. The original Slashdot item was linked throughout the blogosphere -- it will be interesting to see if AOL can extinguish this fire." (Read more below.)

It could be that they don't actually take advantage of its terms, but the Terms of Service seem to broadly favor AIM's right to do exactly what they say they're not doing; rather than drawing any distinction between IM services and public forum posts, the actual terms seem clearly to apply to all AIM products. Here's how they put it:

For purposes of these Terms of Service, the term "AIM Products" shall mean AIM software (whether preinstalled, on a medium or offered by download), AIM services, AIM websites (including, without limitation, AIM.COM and AIMTODAY.COM) and all other software, features, tools, web sites and services provided by or through AIM from America Online, Inc. and its business divisions (e.g., Netscape) (collectively "AOL") and AOL's third-party vendors.
AOL could probably erase many of the worries about conversation snooping if they would provide a definition of the words "post" and "submit" as used in the following paragraph of their ToS (which says it applies to "any AIM Product"), and explicitly disclaimed an "irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote" the contents of online conversations:
You may only post Content that you created or which the owner of the Content has given you. You may not post or distribute Content that is illegal or that violates these Terms of Service. By posting or submitting Content on any AIM Product, you represent and warrant that (i) you own all the rights to this Content or are authorized to use and distribute this Content on the AIM Product and (ii) this Content does not and will not infringe any copyright or any other third-party right nor violate any applicable law or regulation.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL: We're Not Spying on AIM Users

Comments Filter:
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maotx (765127) <maotx@EINSTEINyahoo.com minus physicist> on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:38AM (#11931246)
    "We're not evil. We promise. Trust us. Just because we say we can doesn't mean we will."

    I personally use AIM but that doesn't mean that I'm going to trust any communications I want private with a giant multi-billion company.
    • Re:Right... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:46AM (#11931268)
      What does AOL being a giant multi-billion dollar company have to do with this? If it's private, you don't trust anyone with your communications, except the receiving end. Please don't try to take a cheap jab at a company just for the sake of it being a company. Especially in this case since you've probably been leeching off AOL's servers for years without a second thought (you don't use the official AIM client with the revenue generating ads, do you?)
      • Re:Right... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by maotx (765127) <maotx@EINSTEINyahoo.com minus physicist> on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:10AM (#11931385)
        What does AOL being a giant multi-billion dollar company have to do with this?

        Money has a tendancy of corrupting. The bigger a company grows and the longer they are around the more likely you are to hear of some shady [slashdot.org] practices.

        Please don't try to take a cheap jab at a company just for the sake of it being a company

        I didn't for the sake of it being a company. I did it for the sake that they SAID in their TOS that they can. If AOL was meant to be a secure company then maybe I'd trust my secure communications with them.

        Especially in this case since you've probably been leeching off AOL's servers for years without a second thought (you don't use the official AIM client with the revenue generating ads, do you?)

        And why would I when they use interfaces [slashdot.org] I don't want and allow [slashdot.org] me to use someone elses for free?
      • Re:Right... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Epistax (544591)
        Companies don't answer to people. Despite popular belief, no you can't vote with the dollar. You know how when electing a candidate you need to pick the one that you agree with the most, but will still disagree on many issues? With companies it's much worse. With maybe 3 or 4 companies most industries, what are you voting for? If you move from company A to company B, and they disagree on 50 issues, who's to say which reason they'll assume? (a lower rate? a specific feature? a privacy issue? due to wh
      • by solprovider (628033) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:28AM (#11932409) Homepage
        What does AOL being a giant multi-billion dollar company have to do with this?

        Case 1:
        Mr. Aspiring Songwriter writes a song, and asks some friends for their opinions. He sends the lyrics and an MP3 to friends using his AOL email and/or AIM. The song becomes big a year later. AOL searches their records, and finds he used the AOL network to transfer the work. According to this license, AOL may now:
        - publish the song on the internet,
        - include the song on CD,
        - use the song in a movie,
        - use the song in advertisements, and
        - have their current boyband record it
        without ever giving any compensation to the Mr. A.S.

        Case 2:
        Mr. Writer works on his book or movie script. He sends each chapter to his agent from his AOL email. AOL can use his work without compensation.

        Case 3:
        Mr. Small Business writes software. His team uses AIM to discuss the code being developed. AOL may use any of the code transferred on their network for any purpose without compensation.

        Case 4:
        Mrs. Sporting Goods owns a small store. It does not have an e-commerce website; her AOL email address is enough for the few online orders. One of her customers becomes famous. AOL may publish information about the athlete's purchases and any concerns discussed in her emails. (They may have difficulty justifying the use of the athlete's emails, unless the athlete also used AOL software.)

        If this license was used by a small private business, the materials collected could soon become the most valuable resource of the business. AOL is already part of a major media conglomerate, and the threat of using all meterials transferred on their network without compensation is real. AOL's music and movie divisions should be drooling over the ability to find free resources.
        • IANAL

          What if you send parts of your own already published book to a friend through AOL? Or someone elses? What if you send an mp3 disguised as your own that's really using some samples of some famous work (happens all the time with DJ/producers remixing famous tracks into their own special genre (i.e. drum n bass versions of hiphop songs)).

          If AOL were to ever publish those tracks then the actual AOL user could be losing out but then AOL would get into hot water with any material that actually was alread
        • Please cite the line(s) that state this...please use the entire passage (meaning, do not use choice sentences/words). I would like to see where AOL has full unfettered rights to any information sent over its system. Especially for those people who pay to use AOL e-mail, I want to see where it says that AOL owns the copyright to the information and can use it as it see's fit including making a profit from it without permission or compensation to the author.
          • by Reziac (43301) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @04:56PM (#11936441) Homepage Journal
            I read the TOS, and concluded it was just a case of lawyeritis (inflammation of the lawyers). The actual intent seems to be to establish that AOL shall NOT be held liable for copyright infringement due to copyrighted material (specifically meaning words written *by* AIM users) being passed through their servers.

            So if you write something and send it via AIM, you have given AOL the right to "reproduce" it on their servers, and therefore you cannot sue AOL for copyright infringement, nor can you claim that AOL owes you anything for "distributing" it. (However, this does not *assign* the copyright to AOL.)

            IOW, it's just overly-paranoid ass-covering as performed by lawyers, probably due to some asshole having actually sued them for "storing my works on your server and thereby infringing my copyright" (even if that's just for the few seconds as it passes through) without grokking that this is how sending stuff via AIM works.

            [I can readily see someone like Harlan Ellison going off the deep end about this natural side effect of transmitting data, thus getting the lawyers in a tizzy.]

            • That may be the intent (I actually believe it is); however, that is not what they said in the TOS. If they want that to be the intent, they should have their lawyers re-write the contract, as Yahoo did [slashdot.org].
              • I agree that no matter its intent, as it is present written it *will* be widely misinterpreted, because its language is so ridiculously overreaching. AOL's lawyers should be dosed with anti-hyperactives, and sent back to the drawing board.

                Let that be a lesson to folk writing contracts: if you do too much ass-covering, you wind up splattering shit all over.

      • Re:Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        When people complain about the user interface in GIMP, or missing features in Firefox, or what-not, the standard Slashdot reply is: "It's free, you have no right to complain. If you don't like it, use something else."

        So my reply to this situation is, "AIM's free, you have no right to complain. If you don't like it, use something else."

        Maybe I'm growing older or something, but doesn't it seem like almost every Slashdot story now is "whine whine whine" over some stupid inconsequential detail? Especially
    • I'm [not] going to trust any communications I want private with a giant multi-billion company.

      I don't trust a giant multi-billion company to keep my messages secure either, but if there's a large breach of security and someone can see all my messages, I wouldn't really care. My IMs are nothing special; in fact they are boring. If someone is really interested in where my friends and I will meet up for lunch on Sunday, I'd feel pretty important.

      If I was sharing bomb-making instructions or something else il
    • Re:Right... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ticklejw (453382) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:46AM (#11931572) Homepage
      I have one word for you. Er... two... they're sorta hyphenated:

      gaim-encryption

      Of course, this doesn't mean that I agree with or approve of AOL or anything they do... I'm just saying, if you have to use the protocol, it provides a level of protection.
      • Re:Right... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WebMink (258041)

        I agree. This whole hypefest may be a storm in a thimble but it reinforces the need to use an end-to-end encryption that you control. Personally I think Ethereal is a more real threat than the AOL ToS but the solution is the same.

        For encryption, I'm not an advocate of gaim-encryption as the answer. It means that people all need to use Gaim and that's just not practical. Personally I think OTR [cypherpunks.ca] is a better option. As well as a GAIM plug-in it offers a proxy so that any IM tool can be made secure, and it add

      • Re:Right... (Score:3, Informative)

        by sulli (195030) *
        No Mac OS X version. Is there something equivalent for OS X?
    • Re:Right... (Score:2, Informative)

      by ModernGeek (601932)
      To make a long story short, I had a friend go through the classic "I love everyone and you mommy" to a goth, "Fuck the world". Well, while going through this transition, he smoked pot, had syber sex, and swore a lot, but his parents didn't know. Until AOL stepped in and send all of his conversations to his father. Like a normal ho-head, he told his dad he only tried it once, blah blah, even though his dad knew he did it a bunch since he would email all his friends about it when he did it. Well, his dad take
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:39AM (#11931252) Homepage Journal
    Didn't MSN MEssenger once have a similar claim in its TOS?

    I'm sure there was some storm in a teacup around it a while ago.
  • too late.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin@@@pelicancoast...net> on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:41AM (#11931254)
    I already uninstalled my AIM and done gone somewhere else with my IMing.

    Their PR parrots and Legals should have collaborated BEFORE they opened their big mouths on this matter. Now they are having to play catchup, in a BIG way.

    Bad timing aoHell. In this day and age, that kind of legal play can lose you a couple of million users as fast as your CSRs (customer service reps) can field them.
  • Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:42AM (#11931255)
    Why are people walking around surprised that AOL would, at the very least, not guarantee absolute privacy in conversation?

    The best way to deal with this is to always treat any conversation, ESPECIALLY over the internet, and ESPECIALLY on a service like AIM as insecure. Period.
    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheoMurpse (729043) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:49AM (#11931288) Homepage
      There is a difference between what you are saying -- what a person says via AIM is insecure -- and what the terms of service actually allow -- that AOL has the right to go as far as publish your writings in a book if they wanted to.

      That is what people are surprised about -- that AOL would have the gall to allow themselves something like that.
    • Re:Surprise? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarkMantle (784415)
      I think it's more the fact that they claim to own your conversations and can do as they wish with it. This implies they may be reading it, or just logging it.

      Either way, if i'm sending lyric clips to a friend of mine who lives 100+Km away, I don't want them selling the chorus to someone else.

      And to add to that. How many people use an IM program of some sort for work? Should aoHell own their ideas too?
  • by Imidazole (775082) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:43AM (#11931260) Homepage
    Everyone and their mother who read that previous Slashdot anti-privacy post will of told ten people. Everyone who reads this one, will probably forget about it in ten minutes and revert back to thinking AOL is logging all of your chats. Damage is done.
  • Maybe, CowboyNeal (who posted the original) would be nice enough to go back and put an Update at the FRONT of the old story, as an act of good faith and fair reporting. :-)
    • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:04AM (#11931355)
      I don't see the need for an update. Their TOS still says what it said back then, and CowboyNeal didn't claim they actually had a habit of monitoring AIM messages.

      The fact that they now say they're not monitoring, does not covince me that the TOS weren't intentionally vague.

      • I've been wondering, does AIM traffic even go through AOL's servers? If so, does it need to?

        It seems to me that you could have enough going on on their servers to monitor online/busy/away status and such, but when you go to have a conversation with someone, AOL just points the client software in the direction of the other guy, and the rest is a direct connection to clients. Until reading this, I guess I had assumed that that was what IM clients were doing, since I'm not sure what the point of transmittin

        • Some AIM conversations are direct. The official client lets you know when they are by saying things like "direct connection established". These are needed to do things like file xfers, pictures in posts, etc. You can intentionally initiate a direct connection, the official client will warn you the first time you do this, saying "the other guy is about to get your IP and could be mean to you. Do you trust them?".

          iChat also does this automatically. That's why you occassionally see "you have left the chat" af
  • Lawyers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagPulse (316) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:46AM (#11931265)
    This is another case of agreements being way beyond what a company needs, but lawyers saying "well what about this one bizarre case that might happen once in a hundred years where you might want to use this clause?" So the company makes an agreement like this one, not counting on geeks like us to actually read it and cause trouble.
    • Precisely -- ads I think you've nailed it. AOL puts out advertising, and probably would like to show how people use their services. They needs publication rights for this. Their ad copy writers must be really lame. AOL'd do better hiring better writers and putting in a disclaimer -- "simulated conversation" to reassure customers of their privacy. Snooping messages (beyond netadmin) may be against state law.

  • by v1 (525388)
    Companies exist only to enrichen their owners and shareholders. All decisions are based on this one fundamental truth.

    If they have the authority to do something, and it becomes in the company's best interest to do it, they will do it, without hesitation.

    Translating what they are saying now, it just means "it's not currently in AOL's overall best interest to monitor instant messaging traffic, so right now we're (probably) not doing it. But we can change our minds at any time, without notice."
    • If they have the authority to do something, and it becomes in the company's best interest to do it, they will do it, without hesitation.

      Never forget that companies are made up of people. While I agree that if it is in a company's interest to do something and they are able to, they will, don't think that they'll do it "without hesitation". The person making the decision may well hesitate; the people implementing it may well hesitate; but ultimately it'll happen, I agree with that.
    • I own a small company and am motivated to make as much money as possible while treating my customers and vendors ethically and acting responsibly. Those aren't "ideals" or "goals", but the rules I do business by. Yeah, I want to make money, but not at the expense of my integrity.

      People who make bizarre blanket statements like that are often projecting their own expected behaviors onto others. To be honest, your comment says more about your own ethics than others'.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    i like to live dangerously

    (parody of their stupid commercials)
  • Storage (Score:4, Funny)

    by CleverNickedName (644160) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:46AM (#11931269) Journal
    It really wouldn't take much to store all AIM communiqués.
    I'm sure there's a clever compression tool out there which can take advantage of common data such as "ME TOO!" and "I'M OFF TO MASTURBATE. BRB."

    Everything being in uppercase helps too.
  • The TOS is a CYA (Score:4, Informative)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:48AM (#11931283) Journal
    AOl probably has no intention of doing what they've demanded the rights to. It's prbably illegal anyway whatever the customer agrees to. What they do want is sufficient legal protection that they can avoid any spurious legal challenges that people might beempted to do based on the basic functionality of the system (including logging, temporary storage, occasional viewing of private messages during maintainance etc.)
    • Intercepting & monitoring messages may be illegal under various state laws (usually there's a netadmin exception), but not if you agree to such monitoring. This is one of those alienable rights.
  • by Fox_1 (128616) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:48AM (#11931285)
    Lets be honest if the service is free to you in a monetary sense, it's nice to think that there are no other costs to you. I'm not a nut in a shelter somewhere in the tundra - but a little paranoia can be healthy. I have met and worked for enough companies/individuals to know that altruism does not currently stand as the dominate principle in business. (though, evolution of society...OSS...who knows what will happen) It's just common sense to assume that there are hidden strings attached to something given to you for "free" from a corporation (and most individuals, even you grandma). I never buy anything on my Super Saver Card that I don't want the Super Saver Company to know about, and I treat AIM/MSN/Hotmail/Whatever the same way. If I want a private conversation I use something I can control - Point to point with encryption.
    • Yeah, and make sure your tinfoil hat is on tight. That way the mind-control chemicals they spray into the air behind jetliners won't seep into your neurons and cause you to relive past-life experiences in Atlantis using stolen UFO technology.

      You have to realize that there's about 2 million messages a minute going through AIM's network, and the vast majority of them are things like "asl?," "what time for lunch?," "yes," "ok," etc. Nobody cares what people say on AIM. There's no reason for AOL to listen-i
      • If you're meeting your buddy at SouthCentre Mall and you arrange that via IM, I'm just saying don't mention in the conversation how much pot you want from him. Be smart and use a code or something - like "I'm looking for some cultural lessons, maybe 5 classes" or something.

        Security through Obscurity is only good until someone pierces your obscurity. In your case the information may be trivial - however:

        Databases (logs:traffic & user) - Keyword searches - computers - pretty much makes the volume of m
  • AOL cares (Score:2, Funny)

    by d'oh89 (859382)
    Amercia Online would like you to know that the authors of the recent changes to the Terms of Service have been sacked. We have replaced them with a group of llamas and an unlaiden swallow. Please continue to use our free service and tell all of your friends that it is now safe again to use our software. We promise to only disclose Instant Message logs with a court order. As those are extremely hard to get nowadays (excluding DMCA, Patriot Act, etc.) there should be no need to worry. And please take off
  • Highly coincidental (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HiMyNameIsSam (867358) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:52AM (#11931304)
    When I first read the post regarding the TOS I didn't think too much of it. I just noticed a lot of people getting bent out of shape because they failed to notice it did not apply to instant messages, rather to chat rooms and message board postings. This however did not stop me from griping to many people online about the TOS's blatant disregard for privacy rights. Bla bla bla etc... As of last night my account is blocked and I have no idea why. I am still able to log into my AOL account to check my mail, but instant messaging has been disallowed. I am out of the states right now and in the middle east so tech support (if you would even bother to call it that, as anyone who has called AOL before would likely know how crappy the service is) is somewhat out of the question due to international phone calls being expensive and whatnot. Any suggestions as to how I can figure out what the hell happened?
    • There is no phone support for AIM, regardless, so I don't know who you think you'd call. If you can still read your email you can still get "tech support."

      If you are an actual subscriber -- like you pay AOL annually or monthly, with contact and billing info on file -- and you are having problems using IM, you should start with keyword 'live help', and if they can't solve your problems give them a call.

      To repeat: Phone support is only for paying members, other ISP NOCs, and law enforcement.
  • Always have, i suppose this aim stuff applies there too now... I understand this if people have AGREED to the use, but I don't remember getting a new TOS sent to me when AOL took over icq
  • by fialar (1545) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#11931318)
    I've never been able to find the option to actually -delete- an AIM account. Has anyone else?
    • From TFM:

      To remove a screen name from the Sign On screen

      1. Display the Sign On screen, and select the screen name that you want to delete.

      2. Press the Delete key.

      Note

      - You cannot delete screen names but only remove them from the Sign On screen.

      Copyright © 1997-2004, America Online, Inc. All rights reserved.

      I believe the rules are the same as AOL members. After a certain period of time of inactivity (about 3-6 months), the screen name will go unassigned, and may be able to be taken

      • 3-6 months? I once didn't use my AIM account for 2 years, and signed onto it one day and it still worked, old contacts and all.

        I found something in the OSCAR protocol [oilcan.org] with reference to: "Account delete request" and "Account delete reply", but I don't know of any client that makes use of this.

        It would be nice to be able to delete AIM accounts off AOL's servers.
  • by zotz (3951)
    "The original Slashdot item was linked throughout the blogosphere -- it will be interesting to see if AOL can extinguish this fire."

    I would think it would be fairly easy to put out the fire. Instead of making the assurances below in public, put them in the TOS in an invariant section.

    "AOL Instant Messenger's terms of service do not imply that the company has the right to use private IM communications, and the section quoted in the Slashdot article applies only to posts in public forums -- a common provisi
    • Well alright then! As long as they *say* they don't read person-to-person communications and they're not stored anywhere, that's good enough for me! Thankfully someone I know from a company I trust has quelled my fears.

      </sarcasm>

  • Kidding me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:00AM (#11931328)
    This was already deduced in the original story by this post [slashdot.org]. To wit:

    I hate to sound like an AOL sympathizer, but the TOS specifically refers to "posts." Besides IM, AIM also provides message board services (or so I'm told by people who don't use Trillian, Gaim, or Psi).

    Does "posts" refer to regular IM usage? AOL implies not, referring to "message board posts, chat participation, and homepages."

    My reading of this is that AOL retains usage rights to everything you post on their static forums... forums which basically anyone can access. While I would feel better if this were not the case, that is a good bit better than AOL reading the I.M.'s you send to your co-workers.

    It sounds like CYA to me. As if AOL were giving themselves the right to decide to add access to the chat forums online or through AOL's proprietary service. It's the kind of CYA that inspired them to prohibit people from using AIM "while driving, operating hazardous equipment, or engaging in other forms of hazardous activities."

    On the other hand, go ahead and tell everyone on AIM about the TOS, without explaining that it's only posts. Then try to switch everyone over to Jabber. Please. The whole I.M. universe right now is about as convienient as sending E-mails from CompuServe to AOL in 1992.


    To be fair, Slashdot at least says, on every page, " All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2005 OSTG."

    So, to tie it with a meme:
    1. Register Anonymous Coward as your legal name
    2. Find all AC posts.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    At least it's good to see the "Blogosphere" really pays attention. They don't. Which, really, makes them just like journalists.

    *ducks*
  • whatever. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by untaken_name (660789)
    yeah, let's make a big deal of someone reading our IMs but totally forget that email can be read too. Here's an idea...don't write anything online that you wouldn't want publiched. Problem solved.

    That said, I doubt AOL employees really care about your fucking IMs.

    xXx-@DeathBecomesME@-xXx: LOL
    supertard: heh
    xXx-@DeathBecomesME@-xXx:dude, did you see that one show? LOL
    supertard: yeah lollerz!1

    *rolleyes* who fucking cares if they read your chat logs?
    It isn't security through obscurity, it's security through
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:16AM (#11931422) Homepage
    When will my anti-spyware apps start seeing AIM as spyware, and offering to remove it for me?
  • "In each such case, the submitting user grants OSDN the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license." - Thus go the TOS of slashdot.org. Surprize, surprize!

    I tried t

  • Too late (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuietLagoon (813062)
    AOL will have to change the ToS. The cat is out of the bag. Drudge Report is carrying the story as of this morning.
  • by agraupe (769778) on Monday March 14, 2005 @09:40AM (#11931535) Journal
    It is our job to be completely paranoid about something that most of us probably misunderstand!

    I heard someone being paranoid about people intercepting his communications through unshielded telephone lines if Broadband-over-Powerlines was offered. I think we've gone too far. Some paranoia keeps you alert, but you people are running around with a tinfoil hat, just bent on finding a big corporation that you think is trying to screw you. MS, Valve, AIM and so forth. The minute any one of these actually does something to any one of you, I'd be interested to hear about it. Until then, there's no reason to have this hive of paranoia.

  • Gaim-Encryption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by accessdeniednsp (536678) <detoler@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:21AM (#11931770)
    Gaim Encryption plugin [sourceforge.net] Use gaim, use plugin. Give friends, etc. an ultimatum. I strongly encourage the use of this in more sensitive environments, especially if you're slinging account numbers around.

    This message brought to you by the letter Q and the number 8.
    • Does this really help? What's to stop AOL from reading your transmission of your public key to your friends? AOL could store your public key and the still have the ability to read your outbound messages.
      • They would have to do more than store your public key, they'd have to replace it with their own and then decipher every message you send and recipher it to you.
  • Am I the only one who cringes at the sound of that word? Blogosphere? Why the hell does every little thing on the internet need it's own unique buzzword name? It's all the same internet! Get over it! It's already named!

    Not to troll but Gah! blogosphere is definitely a term that needs to die. It only exists so that people with Blogs who need to feel important, can.
  • Of course (Score:2, Funny)

    by joel2600 (540251)
    <i>"He also says AIM communiques are never stored on AOL's hard drives."</i>

    of course not... they don't have the need... all of the "communiques" are stored on the NSA's servers. /super obvious?
  • AOL doesn't read person-to-person communications? Conversations are never stored on AOL hard drives? I'm sure they've simply contracted some other company to do it.
  • It stated "He also says AIM communiques are never stored on AOL's hard drives."

    Does AIM allow you to send a message to an offline user to be delivered when they log on?

    If so then where are they storing the message prior to delivery?

    I do know ICQ does this and it is owned by AOL.

    Does ICQ's TOS read similar and/or the same?

    Is ICQ's message traffic legally covered under the AOL TOS?

  • I once worked with a guy who'd spent time at AOL's NOC. This would have been several years ago, back before they were quite so huge. Back when companies like AOL and Prodigy were standalone services and not glorified ISPs.

    He told me how they'd bring up particularly interesting private chat conversations on a big screen so they could all follow along and laugh together.

    Maybe he exaggerated, but I never knew him to outright lie. If he said it happened, I think there's a very good chance it did, at least
  • Of the 'major' IM services (MSN,AIM,Y!,ICQ), AIM is the only one that allows you to direct-connect, and encrypt. (Not via AOL's AIM software though).

    I have gotten most friends(that use windows) to switch to trillian, and have it automattically set up to do the 'secure link' which also helps w/ employers w/ prying eyes.

    I believe that GAIM also allows encrpytion over AIM, but it isnt compatable w/ trillian's, which is unfortunate. I also believe that the Jabber protocol supports it depending on your server
  • could be that they don't actually take advantage of its terms, but the Terms of Service seem to broadly favor AIM's right to do exactly what they say they're not doing; rather than drawing any distinction between IM services and public forum posts, the actual terms seem clearly to apply to all AIM products. Here's how they put it:

    No, it doesn't say any such thing. Come on! You were wrong. Grow up and admit it. The only thing worse than being wrong is refusing to admit it.

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre

Working...