According to a recent Reuters report, Yahoo Inc. scanned hundreds of millions of e-mail accounts last year looking for specific data requested by at least two U.S. spy agencies.
In the effort, the company built a software program that secretly monitored customers’ incoming private e-mail data and gave that data to the FBI or the National Security Agency (NSA).
People familiar with the matter said that Yahoo had to comply with a classified demand coming from one of those two agencies. It is the first time an internet company scans all incoming traffic at the request of a government agency.
Past similar efforts included scanning the stored e-mails or the monitoring of a small number of customers. Sources couldn’t tell what spy agencies were after. The government apparently wanted the company to search for a specific string of letters. This could mean anything from a word to a phrase in e-mails or attachments.
The recent report couldn’t tell what info the company handed over. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Yahoo handed any information over at all.
Yahoo Scanned All E-Mail Accounts
The sources who include two former Yahoo employees told Reuters that the company’s CEO Marissa Mayer was the one to comply with the secret directive, and her decision was met with opposition from some top executives. This is why, Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos stepped down in June 2015 and joined Facebook.
Yahoo is a law-abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,
the company replied to a request for comment on the revelations.
Yahoo hasn’t offered more details. Stamos too declined to comment on the report.
The NSA refused to comment, as well, and deferred any questions to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which Reuters couldn’t reach with a request for comment.
Image Source: Flickr