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I’ll concede that Grouply isn’t phishing per se, but I still haven’t gotten anyone to tell me how giving one’s Yahoo! ID and password to a third party could be anything but a violation of the Yahoo! TOS… while I persist in my doubts as to any obligation, real or imagined, that Grouply may or may not have to protect individual users’ data, my greatest concern at this point is the integrity of my GROUPS’ privacy and security… Zivara Vidyarthin summed up many Yahoo! group owners’ concerns about Grouply better than I could; I’m reprinting sections of his post on the EM-L Yahoo! group here on my blog w/his permission:

“Mark, you refer to your service as an email aggregator, but my groups’ activities are not just an email service. My groups are a social networking web site service that happens to have email-driven features. So you’re not just aggregating email. You’re scraping web site content without the permission of the owner (well, that is, unless Yahoo! gave it to you without telling me)…

“You refer to this matter as your subscribers choosing to have “their” email aggregated. That is so contrary to the reality of my groups’ configurations and membership terms that now I can’t help but see the Grouply concept as delusional.

“The content of my…group message archive is not THEIR email. They don’t own it the way they own private correspondence. It is restricted-access web site content that they may receive VIA email, under terms and conditions established for them by Yahoo! and me, but the content itself is private, copyrighted by its authors under law, and restricted from retransmission by the Yahoo! TOS and by my groups’ internal rules. It is web site CONTENT before it is “email,” and my contract with Yahoo! gives me control of that content in many ways, including ones you seem to think I should surrender to you.

“The members of my group don’t own that content except for the postings that they write. They have no right to retransmit that content to your web site, which is not at all the same as their privately keeping copies of group postings in private archives in their private email accounts…

“The group members never had permission in the past (under the Yahoo! TOS and my groups’ internal rules) to retransmit our restricted archives to other web sites, so they don’t have any right to give YOU permission to do it. And now I will stop them, and make them understand that if they persist in trying, they will be banned, and I track their IP addresses so they can’t hide…

“You are rationalizing that I should accept your…ability to override owner controls such as prohibiting access to my restricted message archive for non-approved/pending non-members. Your having now shut that back door to those pending members doesn’t mean as much to me as the fact that you had the ability to open it in the first place. NO EXTERNAL EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER HAS THAT ACCESS, and ESPs don’t have members’ YID passwords to override the fundamental design and structure of my groups established under a contract with Yahoo! and constituting part of the basis for a covenant between my groups’ members and me about how they get to use my groups’ services. Along comes Grouply rewriting the terms of the agreements I have in place with my groups’ members and with Yahoo!? No thanks…

“The only thing that will satisfy me now is for Yahoo! to announce that they have turned off access for Grouply (and all other such services) and made it a strictly opt-IN feature in the Management tools of Yahoo! Groups, available only to owners to choose to enable as a feature. And I would not enable it in any of my groups…”

I’ve yet to see anything SUBSTANTIVE, let alone from anyone who doesn’t have a conflict of interest, that would totally convince me that Grouply is safe not only for individual users but for groups to be exposed to — I’m still personally struggling w/the notion of having to create a disposable Yahoo! ID and password that I can use to sign up for Grouply just so I can see for myself EXACTLY how much risk/exposure this “aggregator service” poses for my groups… in at least one case, my group member list is NOT public; if a Grouply user in that group would have back-door access not only to the list of members’ names but to their email addresses as well, and if that data would then also become publicly available through Grouply b/c of that member’s access, then I cannot in good conscience allow Grouply users access to that group — it would be a grievous violation of the security and privacy that my group members have the right to expect from that group b/c of the way we as owners set it up and our internal rules…

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: the founders of Grouply have a massive PR problem here, and from what I’ve seen up to this point, they’re just not handling it very well (more on that later, but I’m all “grouplied-out” for today 😛 )…

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