AOL Clarifies Terms of Service for AIM

America Online has clarified the terms of service for AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in response to a firestorm of criticism that was sparked when bloggers objected to language concerning users' privacy.

AOL has modified the "Content You Post" section to reiterate that user-to-user communications will remain private. The modifications only remove the objectionable language; otherwise, the conditions are exactly the same as the previous user agreement.

The terms of service, which AOL has said is standard language in most user agreements, inform users about how AOL will use content that is posted to public areas and can be viewed by others. Examples of such content cited by AOL include photos posted to the Rate a Buddy Web site or public forums.

"First and foremost, AOL does not monitor, read or review any user-to-user communication through the AIM network, except in response to a valid legal process," an AOL spokesperson told BetaNews. "The AIM privacy policy (which is part of the AIM TOS) makes that crystal clear."

Nonetheless, the controversial statement, "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," has been struck from the terms of service.

The language is now similar to what is found in AIM privacy policy, but the changes do not alter AOL's right to use publicly shared content.

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