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Your Outlook.com email account name will be recycled if inactive for 360 days

Microsoft's Outlook.com email service

According to a new report by PCWorld, Microsoft is recycling Outlook.com email account names if they are left inactive after a certain period of time. Microsoft has made no mention that this recycling of account names would occur, but the company’s Services Agreement does state that you are required to log into your account “periodically.”

“The Microsoft branded services require that you sign in to your Microsoft account periodically, at a minimum of every 270 days, to keep the Microsoft branded services portion of the services active, unless provided otherwise in an offer for a paid portion of the services. If you fail to sign in during this period, we may cancel your access to the Microsoft branded services. If the Microsoft branded services are canceled due to your failure to sign in, your data may be permanently deleted from our servers,” Microsoft’s Services Agreement states.

When an account becomes inactive, Microsoft will queue that account for deletion. Once that happens and after a total of 360 days, Microsoft will allow that email account name to be available to the public again.

Yahoo faced criticism over this unused email recycling issue in the past, which sparked an outrage over privacy and security concerns over identity theft through data obtained from old email. Google, on the other hand, does not partake in an email recycling program.

“When Yahoo announced this, experts warned about and predicted serious security and privacy issues. Yahoo downplayed these risks, and ignored these critics, but now we see these concerns were legitimate. The least Microsoft should do is clearly inform its users about the account reuse policy. Microsoft should absolutely mention this policy in their service agreement. Users should be made aware of this,” Mike Rispoli of Privacy International stated in response to the issue.

Is the issue at hand such a big deal? Or does Microsoft need to step up and disclose its recycling program? Considering that privacy and security is a hot topic these days, how do you feel about this? Sound off in the comments below.

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