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Yahoo is making it harder for users to sue

A class action waiver and mutual arbitration clause are two big changes for Yahoo users as the site integrates further into the Verizon Oath family.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Don't expect to join a class action lawsuit against Yahoo -- or any other site owned by Oath, Verizon's content division.

As CNET first reported on April 13, Yahoo began notifying users that their email would soon be subject to additional scanning for advertising purposes. The updated terms of service also noted changes in the company's mutual arbitration clause -- including a class action waiver -- effectively bringing Yahoo's policies into line with the rest of the Oath family of sites, including AOL, Huffington Post, Techcrunch and Engadget.

Earlier this week, news of the class action waiver began to be picked up more widely at sites like Axios, as other Oath sites began highlighting the same updated terms of service to visitors.

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Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

The terms of service and privacy policies for nearly every large site and service on the web -- including Apple and Facebook -- have been or will soon be updated as companies prepare for compliance with the the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect May 25. The so-called GDPR introduces big new changes as to how companies address user data and privacy.

While it only applies to EU citizens, global web companies that do business in Europe need to adjust their policies accordingly -- and they're using the opportunity to tweak policies for users in other territories as well. But any and all changes to terms of service and privacy policies are getting a closer look from consumers in light of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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As Ars Technica recently pointed out, though, Yahoo has much more skin in the game than the news sites in the Oath stable when it comes to potential liability issues. The Securities and Exchange Commission just fined Altaba -- the husk of Yahoo's former corporate parent -- $35 million for failing to disclose a 2016 email breach that affected approximately half a billion users. Additional legal action for any such past or future user security issues are exactly what Verizon is seeking to mitigate.

When asked about the updated terms of service on April 13, an Oath spokesperson replied only with this statement: "The launch of a unified Oath privacy policy and terms of service is a key stepping stone toward creating what's next for our consumers while empowering them with transparency and controls over how and when their data is used." 

You can read the entire Oath privacy policy right here

What is the GDPR? How Facebook and others are responding to the new European privacy regulation.

Yahoo and AOL just gave themselves the right to read your emails (again): A look at Oath's new terms of service.