Yahoo may have been part of an alleged top-secret US government initiative to scan hundreds of millions of e-mail accounts, according to Reuters. Sources claim Yahoo developed its own surveillance software that scanned incoming emails and attachments in real time for specific characters or phrases.
“Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” the company said when contacted by Reuters, declining to make more extensive comments.
This could be a major breakthrough as experts believe the FBI or NSA have asked other US tech companies to get involved in surveillance, but Yahoo is the first openly accused. Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook deny involvement in domestic surveillance requests.
“We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘No way’,” Google commented.
“We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo,” Microsoft said.
“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,” the agency writes.
Following Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US government collecting real-time metadata from online users and violating privacy rights, it is known that, based on 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ISPs, telecom and internet companies have provided user information to US intelligence.