Yahoo Secretly Scanned Customer Emails on Behalf of U.S. Intelligence Sources

privacy-onlineLast year Yahoo secretly developed a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails at the demand of a U.S. government security agency. The software was programmed to search for specific information that was provided to Yahoo by U.S. intelligence officials.

Yahoo complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.

This represents apparent deception by President Obama who, in 2013 sought to address concerns over internet privacy in the wake of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal. Obama insisted that US authorities were not “rifling through the emails” of ordinary people and he said he was confident the US intelligence services had “struck the appropriate balance” between security and civil rights. Source.

“This is not a situation in which we are rifling through the ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anybody else. This is not a situation where we simply go into the internet and start searching any way that we want. This is a circumscribed, narrow system, directed at us being able to protect our people and all of it is done with the oversight of the courts.” -President Obama, 2013

According to sources who did not want to be identified, it is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources.

According to two of the former Yahoo employees, Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to comply with government demands to search customer emails disturbed some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now heads security at Facebook Inc. Full source.

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