Last month, Bob Lord, Yahoo’s chief information security officer (CISO), confirmed in a post on the company’s Tumblr account that a suspected “state-sponsored actor” in late 2014 might have hacked information connected with at least 500 million user accounts.
“In statements, both Microsoft and Google denied collaborating with the NSA to scan users” emails, the latter taking a much more firm stance.
“It would be really hard for a provider to do that”, he added. The Department of Justice can issue gag orders along with data requests that prevent companies from disclosing any information on their correspondence with the government.
Yahoo called the report that the company scanned its customers’ incoming emails “misleading”. “It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo declined to challenge this sweeping surveillance order, because customers are counting on technology companies to stand up to novel spying demands in court”.
Julian Sanchez, a fellow at the Cato Institute and critic of NSA surveillance, said he was not persuaded by Yahoo’s statement. He added in a separate tweet, “What Yahoo could have easily said but didn’t: ‘We have not conducted such scanning”.
Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who first revealed the widespread government surveillance of personal email and telephone conversations in a 2013 document leak to the press, also commented on the news on Twitter yesterday.
Google, on the other hand, stated that the search giant never received this kind of request – and even if they did, their response will apparently be “no way”.
Other companies did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.
In a statement on Wednesday, Yahoo said the Reuters report was “misleading” and that the “mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems”.
Twitter also denied receiving any such request.
Yahoo is now in the process of being acquired by telecommunications giant Verizon in a $4.8 billion deal.
“The suspicion that Yahoo has actively assisted to scan mails of their users as a henchman of the NSA is not really surprising regarding the information of the PRISM program”. Noting that the company is working with law enforcement authorities, Lord urged Yahoo users to “promptly” change their passwords and security questions.
Yahoo on Wednesday denied conducting mass e-mail surveillance after a report alleging it built a special scanning programme at the behest of U.S. intelligence sparked an outcry from privacy activists.
United States authorities have frequently come under fire for violations of citizens’ right of privacy in the name of social security. “Due to a programming flaw, he told them hackers could have accessed the stored emails”.
Technology companies came under fire in 2013 after NSA contract worker Edward Snowden revealed classified documents that outlined USA government surveillance programs, including some that involved Internet and telecommunications companies assisting agencies in collecting data from private citizens.
The New York Times said the use of that technology to carry out a FISA order “to search for a digital signature used by a foreign power is rare”.
The company complied with a classified US government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or Federal Bureau of Investigation, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.