Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is Your ISP Reading Your Email?

Recently I had an incident with email that got me pretty fired up.
Seems AO-Hell scans and possibly reads you emails!
I sent an email to a friend who has an email account with AO#. You know who I'm talking about.
In my email to him, I included a link to my web page. Or should I say a redirected link.
For convenience and ease I use the redirect service. Works for me and is easy to remember.

So I have this link in an email to him and send it off. Minutes later it bounces back from AO#.
In the bounce back it contains an AO# web page link as to why it was rejected.
Seems the redirection service is on their black list of banned sites due to abuse from this domain.
What! Who are they to decide what is acceptable and what isn't. I'm also a bit irritated because I now see they are scanning emails for certain words and links.

Okay! I'll fix their a$$e$. I put the original email content in a text file, wrote a new email explaining the attached text file and sent it on it's merry way. A minute later it comes bouncing back for the same reason!
Now that means they are not only scanning emails but are scanning text and document files!
This is starting to scream "Invasion of Privacy!"

Alright AO-Hell! I'm gonna beat you at this game. Insert text file in a zip file. Attach to new email message and fire it off. Guess what? Yep! You guessed it! It bounced back. Same reason! Blacklisted domain link.
But now that tells me they are unzipping archive files and scanning them.
Those Privacy screams are getting louder.

I finally re-zipped that text file but added a password to the zip file. Attached it to a new email which included the password. Guess he got it. It didn't bounce back but I also haven't gotten a reply. Maybe they forwarded it into cyberspace where it will never be seen again?

There is much of the above scenario that bothers me. First is the fact that this email service and I'm sure many others are scanning your emails for certain words or links.
I use the word 'scanning' very loosely because we don't really know if it's just a scan or if the email contains certain words or links that it isn't forwarded to a real person who then reads it.

It seems that our privacy means little in the name of safety and security.
I don't know about you, but I don't need some ISP or email service making decisions for me as to whether a link is safe or not. I don't need them censoring my personal emails or scanning for words that they deem unacceptable!

So from now on if I have any sensitive or confidential info to email or just forwarding a stinking link it will be in a password protected archive file.
Just remember that TaZMAn sent it to you and that is all you will need to know.

Take care, be aware, stay safe.



rokytnji said...

Damn Taz, When will it ever end? Talked my Sister into jumping ship with AOL.

TaZMAn said...

Damn if I know!
It's ridiculous. The average citizen has no rights.
AOL shut down it's hometown and blogs at the end of Oct.
Never liked AOL. They played games like installing a modem throttle that cut down user's speeds but didn't report the slower speeds.

PGP isn't fully secure either. The NSA required a backdoor be put into it under the guise of National Security.

And judges rule that an ISP is allowed to read your emails.
Until people wake up and stop believing it is for their own good, we will continue to see our privacy erode to nothing.

L4Linux said...

The mail services claim to "scan" your emails, not read them. And they have some strong arguments over this: they need to do it in order to reduce Spam (can anyone disagree with this??) and put some advertisments, so they can make (a lot of) money and provide the mail service for free. Our rights will keep being squeezed...

TaZMAn said...

Hi L4Linux,
How's it going?

Their claims about blocking spam are just that. Empty claims.
The user that I sent the email to is always complaining about all the spam he gets yet the email from me contained a legitimate link.

As for their ads in the emails?
You mean those ads like for the Windows XP or Windows 2009 Antivirus? LOL!!!

Ad servers are compromised and numerous ads contain phishing sites or viruses.

I use one free email service and that is for secondary email.
Only a few have my main addy.
But in the coming weeks I may just decide to set up my own email server and dump the ad based one.

You are correct. Our rights are being squeezed.
Did you see that AOL is being sued for ads in their emails of premium customers?