Providing free e-mail addresses is big business for many large web companies such as Google and Yahoo. The web giants don't make money off e-mail addresses or the e-mail service itself, but they do make huge amounts of money by selling ad space inside the free e-mail services. You may recall that Yahoo found itself in a bit of hot water earlier this summer when it announced that it would be deactivating inactive accounts and making those e-mail addresses available to new users.
Privacy advocates were up in arms after that announcement. Privacy advocates feared the policy of recycling old addresses opened the door for identity theft. Microsoft is now catching heat for a similar issue after it has been alleged that the company has inadequately warned users that their Outlook.com e-mail addresses could be recycled if the account becomes inactive. <a href="">Outlook.com replaced the old Hotmail free e-mail system.
The service agreement users must agree to when they open a new Outlook.com e-mail address specifies that the user has to sign in at least once every 270 days. If the user fails to sign in, the account can be canceled and the data inside the account deleted. One thing that people are arguing was not made clear is that any e-mail accounts associated with old inactive accounts can be recycled 360 days after the account was deleted.
That tidbit is not mentioned in the Service Agreement for Outlook.com. Just like in the case of Yahoo, privacy advocates fear Microsoft's policy could allow nefarious users to steal personal information on the previous account holders.