Ya­hoo ‘ se­cretly scanned email for US govt’

> First case to sur­face of US in­ter­net firm agree­ing to in­tel­li­gence agency’s re­quest

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

WASH­ING­TON: Ya­hoo Inc last year se­cretly built a cus­tom soft­ware pro­gramme to search all of its cus­tomers’ in­com­ing email for spe­cific in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

The firm com­plied with a clas­si­fied US govern­ment de­mand, scan­ning hun­dreds of mil­lions of Ya­hoo Mail ac­counts at the be­hest of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency or FBI, said three for­mer em­ploy­ees and a fourth per­son ap­prised of the events.

Some sur­veil­lance ex­perts said this rep­re­sents the first case to sur­face of a US in­ter­net com­pany agree­ing to an in­tel­li­gence agency’s re­quest 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.

Ac­cord­ing to two of the for­mer em­ploy­ees, Ya­hoo chief ex­ec­u­tive Marissa Mayer’s de­ci­sion to obey the di­rec­tive roiled some se­nior ex­ec­u­tives and led to the June 2015 de­par­ture of chief in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity of­fi­cer Alex Sta­mos, who now holds the top se­cu­rity job at Face­book.

“Ya­hoo is a law-abid­ing com­pany, and com­plies with the laws of the United States,” the com­pany said in re­sponse to Reuters ques­tions about the de­mand.

US phone and in­ter­net com­pa­nies are known to have handed over bulk cus­tomer data to in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. But some for­mer govern­ment of­fi­cials and pri­vate sur­veil­lance ex­perts said they had not pre­vi­ously seen ei­ther such a broad de­mand for real-time Web col­lec­tion or one that re­quired the cre­ation of a new com­puter pro­gram. – Reuters

Mayer’s de­ci­sion to obey the di­rec­tive by US au­thor­i­ties roiled some se­nior Ya­hoo ex­ec­u­tives.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.