Somewhere on page 4 of Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy [PDF], the company states that while it’s not obligated to monitor customers’ e-mails, “Comcast and its affiliates, suppliers, and agents have the right to monitor these transmissions.” But, the cable giant tells Ars Technica, they don’t really want to read your messages to your Aunt Lolly in Wisconsin.
When asked by the site if active monitoring of e-mails is something that occurs, they replied:
Comcast told Ars that it almost never monitors user content unless asked to collect information for law enforcement. But it wants the broad grant of authority so that it can do things like look at e-mails which appear to be spam without getting sued. It can also engage in targeted monitoring when users complain about other abusive or hateful users.
On their own FAQ, Comcast lists reasons why they might monitor a customer’s e-mails:
* A user contacts us about threats, and we reasonably believe there may be immediate danger to someone.
* Law enforcement officials present Comcast with a valid subpoena, court order, or search warrant. Comcast receives evidence of proper legal process in connection with a civil legal claim (a subpoena, court order, or injunction).
* We become aware of activities that violate the Acceptable Use Policy and are potentially harmful or illegal. In such a case, where there is no imminent danger, Comcast notifies the Subscriber, and works with the Subscriber to understand and resolve the situation.
* If Comcast receives a claim that a Subscriber is posting or transmitting material that may infringe someone else’s intellectual property, Comcast follows the process established under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that requires an Internet Service provider to take down such material (generally by requesting that the Subscriber do so), and provides a means for disputing infringement claims.
Comcast explained to Ars Technica that “it simply doesn’t have either the interest or the manpower to engage in any sort of routine surveillance or to listen in on some list of enemies.”
Why Comcast can (but probably won’t) read your e-mails, IMs [ArsTechnica.com]