One of the extremely common questions I get is how to hack into
someone else’s instant messaging history, or how to recover an IM chat that
may, or may not, have been archived.
Those answers vary based on the instant messaging client that you are using.
But there’s something else recently discovered that’s much more
AOL has the right to read, and even publish publicly, your private IM
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As reported recently by Aunty-Spam,
the AOL terms of service for AOL Instant Messenger includes this very clear,
and very scary phrase: “You waive any right to privacy.” It goes on to discuss
how AOL may use your instant messages in any way it sees fit, at any time.
Again, I say, Yikes!
Now, I doubt seriously whether AOL is interested in the gushing’s of a 13
year old IMing her best friend of the week wondering her boyfriend’s really
‘all that’ or not. But, as I’ve commented on before, people
are using free services for business-critical purposes. Are you using AIM to
discuss sensitive, private material? What would happen to you, or your
business, if AOL decided that your conversation was a good example to publish
on the web for all to see?
All together now: Yikes!
So don’t. Personally, I’d run away from AOL Instant Messenger (and ICQ,
which is owned by AOL and has the same terms of service) for anything that you
wouldn’t want the world to see. In a business setting? Using an encrypted,
business class IM solution. But run away from the free solutions. As with free
email, you’re just asking for problems.