Well, we all know that if you’re not using encryption then it’s a fairly trivial task to capture what someone sends in an email, in an instant message or through a webpage.
However, AOL have recently changed their Terms of “Service” to explicitly state that they are free to record and re-use anything you send via AIM, and that by using their service you are granting them (and anyone they feel like) a world wide license for anything you type with AIM. The text of the relevant section Content You Post says:
Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this 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. 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.
I’ve highlighted in bold the most chilling sections. In case you didn’t spot it, they say really did say:
You waive any right to privacy.
Jabber – The Open Alternative
If you’ve been using AIM and are feeling a little unhappy about all of this, then I suggest that you take a long hard look at using Jabber instead. There are plenty of clients available for practicaly any operating system and plenty of open servers around the world, and you’ll probably want to pick the one closest to you.