Yahoo Scanned E-Mails For US Intelligence

Reuters is reporting that Yahoo has been secretly scanning e-mails at the behest of US Intelligence according to two former Yahoo employees:

The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

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, who did not want to be identified.

Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request.

If this is true, the go ahead came from Marissa Mayer who is Yahoo’s CEO. When called on this, Yahoo said this:

“Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” the company said in a brief statement in response to Reuters questions about the demand. Yahoo declined any further comment.

Two things pop to mind. First, if you’re on Yahoo, get off Yahoo. Because nothing sends the message that this sort of behavior is not acceptable faster than a loss of customers. Second, how many other companies have similar programs? Inquiring minds want to know.

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