[ISN] AOL's Terms of Service Update for AIM Raises Eyebrows

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Mar 14 2005 - 01:42:43 PST


By Ryan Naraine 
March 12, 2005

America Online, Inc. has quietly updated the terms of service for its
AIM instant messaging application, making several changes that is sure
to raise the hackles of Internet privacy advocates.

The revamped terms of service, which apply only to users who
downloaded the free AIM software on or after Feb. 5, 2004, gives AOL
the right to "reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and
promote" all content distributed across the chat network by users.

"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,"  
according to the AIM terms-of-service.

Although the user will retain ownership of the content passed through
the AIM network, the terms give AOL ownership of "all right, title and
interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work
created by AOL using or incorporating this [user] 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," it

The changes could have serious ramifications for AOL's AIM@Work
service which is being marketed to businesses. AIM@Work offers things
like Identity Services to allow the use of corporate e-mail address as
AOL screen names. It also offers premium services like voice
conferencing and Web meetings.

At the time of this reporting, it is not clear if the same terms of
service apply to businesses who pay for the AIM@Work features. America
Online executives were not available to discuss the terms of service

On [2] Weblogs [3] and discussion forums [4], the discovery of the
updated AIM terms of service has led to intense discussions.

"They're encouraging businesses to use AIM to discuss details of their
business correspondence, even to sync their Outlook contact and
calendar files, which, according to their TOS, AOL then has the right
to publish in any way they see fit, including, among other things,
providing that information to business competitors. I'd be pretty damn
leery of using AIM@Work for any kind of business," said Ben Stanfield,
executive editor and founder of MacSlash, Inc.

[1] http://www.aim.com/tos/tos.adp
[2] http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1770845,00.asp
[3] http://www.benstanfield.com/thrash/2005/03/aol_eavesdrops_.html
[4] http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/03/11/2359226&tid=120&tid=158&tid=17

Bellua Cyber Security Asia 2005 -

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