Reuters just published a shocking news. Yahoo has been scanning users’ emails and sending the information to US intelligence agencies.
Last year, Yahoo built a secret software for U.S. intelligence. This software allows them to search all of the incoming emails on Yahoo mail for specific information. It was not confirmed what data was handed over by Yahoo to US intelligence agencies, but sources confirmed that they wanted to search for a set of characters.
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Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision was not accepted by all members of the company. This is the reason Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos left the company and joined Facebook in 2015.
Under laws including the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, intelligence agencies including NSA or FBI can ask U.S. phone and Internet companies to provide customer data to aid foreign intelligence-gathering efforts for a variety of reasons. These reasons also include prevention of terrorist attacks.
Mayer and other executives were afraid of losing, and hence they decided to comply with the directive.
Yahoo’s security team was not involved in this matter and when they found a program scanning the emails, they reported it and blocked it. Later, they found that the software was authorized by Mayer. So, Stamos decided to leave the company. He joined Facebook but never revealed any problem with Yahoo.
When asked about this matter, Yahoo declined to comment but issued a statement. “Yahoo is a law-abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” the company said
This news came after Yahoo announced it was the victim of “State sponsored“ hack that may have leaked data of over 500 million Yahoo users.
There is a possibility that NSA or FBI had approached other Internet companies with same demand and we cannot say who agreed and who denied. But this again started a debate of privacy.