Can Yahoo recycle your username -- and protect your data?

Yahoo will begin recycling usernames on accounts that have been inactive for more than a year. But with log-ins and password recovery linked to e-mail addresses, it's raising some security concerns.

If you haven't signed into Yahoo in the past 12 months, the tech giant wants you back and it's using some tough love to get you.

Yahoo has set 11:59 p.m. PT on July 14, 2013 as the deadline for users to sign into the site or their Yahoo mail. Those who don't will lose their Yahoo IDs, and the usernames will be put for grabs so others can try to claim them.

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How many Yahoo IDs are we talking about? Dylan Casey, Yahoo's senior director of Consumer Platforms, wouldn't specify other than to say "a lot."

"You can imagine how many accounts are created every day, and some percentage of those just become dormant after awhile, and we're actually pretty excited about the names we're going to make available to people, " Casey explained.

Courtesy: Yahoo

While the use-it-or-lose-it policy may be great for someone who's had to endure a clunky e-mail address like Mary4316594756139@yahoo and wants Mary@yahoo.com instead, it's raising some serious privacy and security concerns since e-mail addresses are linked to log-ins and password recovery on other sites.

Casey said Yahoo is implementing a process to safeguard users' information and data that he described as "very, very foolproof."

"We'll go through and do some cleanup work to ensure that data doesn't end up in the wrong place and unsubscribe that particular ID from any newsletters." He added, "We're working with partners and peers in the space collaboratively on a program that will help them understand if an account has been recycled and potentially has a new owner. For example, if this is a user on Amazon who's trying to recover their password, we'll help them understand if the account has been recycled so the password information won't get sent to the new user of that account."

Yahoo's new policy differs from Google, which does not recycle usernames for security reasons. Even when users delete their Gmail account, Google policy states: "You'll also be unable to reuse your Gmail username."

Yahoo is encouraging people who want new usernames to put in their request as soon as it opens up the process. Yahoo will inform people in August if they can claim the usernames they requested.

Casey said the username recycling will be an ongoing process, not just a one-time house cleaning. If you don't log into your Yahoo account at least once a year, your username could be recycled. So now you've been warned.

Yahoo says anyone having problems with their e-mail or the username transition should go to help.yahoo.com.

 

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