Yahoo Scanning Customers’ Emails Since 2015

On October 4, Reuters reported that Yahoo developed a custom software to search all its customers’ emails and deliver specific information to the U.S. government. Yahoo was ordered to search for a specific set of characters, which could be a name, phrase, or sentence in either the email or an attachment to the email. Reuters was unable to discover what the characters were or what data (if any) was handed over to authorities.

Yahoo denied this claim on Wednesday, stating:

We narrowly interpret every government request for user data to minimize disclosure. The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.

Reuters cited two former Yahoo employees that spoke anonymously on the issue.

If true, this means that Yahoo scanned hundreds of millions of email accounts on behalf of the U.S. government. Reuters also reported that Yahoo could have challenged the government’s requests, but declined to do so.

In addition, it was recently revealed that 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked by foreign-sponsored hackers, adding to potential uncertainty about Yahoo’s ability to secure its account holders’ emails. Google and Microsoft stated that such requests by the government would be immediately denied.

Copyright for image: fkdkondmi / 123RF Stock Photo

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Ashton DeLano is a junior at the George Washington University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Economics with minors in Business Administration and Computer Science. He intends to cover developments in the health and energy sectors and the impact of new technologies on the consumer.


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