Tech

Yahoo Involved In Spying Emails Scandal

By Victor Thomson , Oct 05, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
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According to reports, Yahoo has helped an American intelligence agency to spy on its customers' emails.

Yahoo Spying On Emails

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, a Reuters report claimed that, on behalf of either the FBI or the National Security Agency, Yahoo agreed to secretly search all its users' incoming emails. The hidden search was done for a specific but unknown word or phrase. The report is based on insider information coming from unnamed ex-Yahoo employees.

After Yahoo's disclosure last month about a data breach that has led to the theft of 500 million customer accounts, this new disclosure set off shockwaves in the tech sector. According to USA Today, Yahoo did not comment the report but stated that it did not break any law. 

The Washington Post reports that Yahoo began to secretly scan all the incoming emails of its hundreds of millions of users in April of last year. The measure has been implemented as means for the company to comply with an order from the U.S. intelligence community.

According to an ex-Yahoo employee familiar with the matter, the move prompted at least two company officials to leave the company. Then-chief information security officer Alex Stamos has decided to resign last year because of the company's decision not to fight the order from intelligence officials. Due to ethical concerns about the surveillance program, at least one other security staffer left Yahoo.

Reactions To Yahoo's Emails Spying Scandal

Privacy advocates are concerned due to the government's demand to scan email in real time. The order is "unprecedented and unconstitutional," according to Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Toomey added that the fact that Yahoo did not challenge this surveillance order is disappointing, because customers of the technology companies are counting on them to stand up to spying demands in court. Regarding the competitor email service Gmail, Google said in a statement that the company never received such a request but it would oppose it in case that it did. The other major email provider, Microsoft, said that it never scanned secretly its email traffic.

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