Yahoo now auctioning domain names
This summer Yahoo shook up the email ecosystem by publicly announcing they were recycling usernames. The shakeup wasn’t so much that they were recycling usernames, but that they did it in a way that compromised user information and account security. Any user that had an account tied to a recycled Yahoo account is at risk for having their PII leaked. Folks are still dealing with the fallout, both Yahoo and the companies who are trying to meet customer needs by sending emails and protect customer emails by not sending emails.
On top of that, Yahoo announced they’re selling off a number of domains that they’ve accumulated over the years. Some of these are pretty high value domains like webserver.com, sandwich.com and other real words.
I don’t think Yahoo used any of these domains for email, and even if they did any addresses should have bounced off years ago. Still, it does bring up some broader policy issues.
Many, many things online, from bank accounts to social media accounts to blog commenting systems treat email addresses as a unique identifier for that account. Many of these databases were developed with the underlying assumption that people wouldn’t change their email addresses and that it was a static value. This wasn’t a true assumption 10 years ago and it’s certainly not true now. This mistaken assumption is a problem, and one that more and more companies are going to have to address moving forward. This isn’t about email and it isn’t about delivery, it’s about simple data accuracy and hygiene.
Companies must start thinking and addressing email address impermanence. These issues are not going away.