A US court has ruled that a group of people can sue Yahoo in class-action lawsuit for allegedly accessing the content of emails sent to its mail users from non-Yahoo Mail accounts.
The non-Yahoo Mail users said the company intercepted and analysed their emails, along with attachments in a bid to boost revenue from search and display advertising.
In a decision on Tuesday (May 27th), US District Judge Lucy Koh said people who sent emails to or received emails from Yahoo Mail subscribers since October 2nd, 2011 may sue as a group under the federal Stored Communications Act for alleged privacy violations.
She also ruled that a class of non-Yahoo Mail subscribers in California since October 2nd, 2012 may also sue as a group for privacy infringement.
Judge dismisses Yahoo's arguments
In its defence, Yahoo argued that some of the plaintiffs continued to email Yahoo subscribers, despite being aware of Yahoo's activities and in doing so consented to Yahoo accessing their emails.
But the judge rejected Yahoo's arguments. "Yahoo may have to, as a practical matter, adjust its scanning practises on an individual basis," Lucy Koh wrote in a document seen by Reuters. "That does not, however, change the fact that plaintiffs seek uniform relief from a common policy that Yahoo applies to all class members."
It is estimated that over one million members are part of the privacy lawsuit.The accusers sought an injunction banning Yahoo from allegedly spying on emails, along with damages, as well as damages.
Rebecca Neufeld, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said the company cannot comment on active litigation.
Yahoo updated its email systems in 2011, telling users via a pop-up box that their content could be scanned for advertising purposes, and pointed out that users can change their settings and opt out of internet advertising on the privacy pages.