Yahoo reportedly gave US government access to all users' emails (updated)


According to Reuters, Yahoo provided US intelligence officials access to all of its customers incoming emails last year. The publication’s sources claim that the company had to comply with a classified request from the government, which allowed the National Security Agency and FBI to scan “hundreds of millions” of Yahoo Mail accounts.

To do so, Yahoo secretly built a custom software that officials could use to search emails for specific information, although it’s not known what exactly they were looking for. As Reuters notes, based on comments from surveillance experts, this marks the first time that an American internet firm has agreed to meet the demands from a US spy agency en mass.

Even if it was handed a classified directive, Yahoo seems to have opened the floodgates to the NSA and FBI, rather than offer access to clear-cut materials – like stored messages or specific accounts. And that could set a bad precedent. Since the Edward Snowden leaks, the relationship between tech companies and the US government has been rocky, with the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft fighting hard to keep people’s private information secure.


But Obama said this wasn’t happening. :rolleyes:


Between this and losing information for half a billion accounts, this company is a complete dumpster fire.


I used to think there was some great difference between the US government and oppressive, totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union. I used to think there was a difference in the people as that explained how they could let themselves be so abused. Now I’m wise enough to know there isn’t any real difference.

It’s also not very difficult to encrypt your email. Most desktop and phone clients support it. It’s just not that important for most people to trouble with not being spied on. So this revelation, like others before, won’t change a thing.


In a statement sent to Engadget, a Yahoo spokesperson said, “Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States.” Nothing else beyond that.

This doesn’t sound like a denial.


Yahoo email scanning prompts European ire


I wouldn’t call it not difficult. It’s certainly not hard to turn them into ciphertext, but managing a PKI securely is incredibly hard, even for professionals.

Email encryption is typically done with GPG, which is the least user friendly tool I have ever come across (besides git, perhaps), and the graphical front ends are usually limited. Its web-of-trust model for key authentication scales horribly and basically offloads the hardest part of PKI to the user.

The other popular option is S/MIME, but that is a centralized system really intended for businesses rather than individuals. It also includes the pitfalls of the TLS certificate authority system, which doesn’t even work well for TLS.


Glad I have never had a Yahoo account!


I have and I intend to keep it. Has been off a few times recently but OK today, They can read my email to their hearts content. Nothing to hide.

Only the guilty need fear.


I don’t have anything to hide either, but that is beyond what I feel the government has a right to do unless they go through proper channels - like warrants. Either that or Yahoo needs to let account holders know about the special software created to help the government.


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