Might Yahoo’s email move deliver unintended consequences?

Yahoo to free up email addresses that have been inactive for a year

Yahoo announced yesterday that it's going to do something about all those inactive yahoo.com email accounts you folks have walked away from over the years. And I'm wondering if the move may open a door for that rascal Mr. Unintended Consequences.

yahoo

The Associated Press reports:

Yahoo is trying to breathe new life into inactive email accounts by giving away the identifications beginning next month.

The program announced Wednesday will give Web surfers an opportunity to claim a new handle that had previously been unavailable. It also represents a last chance for Yahoo users who haven't logged in for at least a year to keep the address.

Yahoo plans to release the inactive accounts unless the current owner logs in again before July 15. After that, the identifications will be available to all comers and will be ready to use again in mid-August.

I have had a personal Yahoo email account for a long time. The address is not paulmcnamara@yahoo.com and I assume that it is not paulmcnamara@yahoo.com because that address was not available at the time I established the account.

(Hidden yoddlers on Yahoo homepage fall silent.)

So in all likelihood another Paul McNamara still has that address. Which means there is some chance - perhaps even a good chance - that paulmcnamara@yahoo.com has been inactive for more than a year and will become available again in August.

If so, maybe I should go grab it, if for no other reason than to make sure another Paul McNamara doesn't get there first yet again (it's not an uncommon name).

Enough about me, though. Say I'm a celebrity (past or present; major or minor) and I haven't even thought about my old Yahoo email account since the Clinton Administration. Or I'm a corporate brand manager.

(Twitter's 10 most antisocial celebs)

Are schemers and wise guys going to be rushing in to scoop up any FamousPerson@yahoo.com address that becomes available? Will there be domain name-like squatting? Spoofing email addresses isn't difficult, I've been told, but does a criminal or mischief maker derive any additional advantage from having the real thing from a household name like Yahoo?

I don't know. Maybe this won't matter at all - to anyone. But I'm nowhere near good enough at thinking like a bad actor to say that for certain.

(Update from comments below: "This is definitely going to be an issue," says someone who's been there with BlackBerry.)

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