Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of
its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by
U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the
The company complied with a classified U.S. government
directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the
behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees
and a third person apprised of the events.
experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S.
Internet company agreeing to a spy agency's demand 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
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.
to the two 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 Inc (NASDAQ:FB)."Yahoo
is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United
States," the company said in a brief statement in response to Reuters
questions about the demand. Yahoo declined any further comment.
Through a Facebook spokesman, Stamos declined a request for an interview.
The NSA referred questions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which declined to comment.
demand to search Yahoo Mail accounts came in the form of a classified
directive sent to the company's legal team, according to the three
people familiar with the matter.
U.S. 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 directive for real-time Web collection or one that required the
creation of a new computer program.
"I've never seen that, a
wiretap in real time on a 'selector,'" said Albert Gidari, a lawyer who
represented phone and Internet companies on surveillance issues for 20
years before moving to Stanford University this year. A selector refers
to a type of search term used to zero in on specific information.
"It would be really difficult for a provider to do that," he added.
said it was likely that the NSA or FBI had approached other Internet
companies with the same demand, since they evidently did not know what
email accounts were being used by the target. The NSA usually makes
requests for domestic surveillance through the FBI, so it is hard to
know which agency is seeking the information.
Reuters was unable to confirm whether the 2015 demand went to other companies, or if any complied.
Alphabet Inc's Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), two major U.S. email service providers, did not respond to requests for comment.
Why do you think that gmail is better?
I do a google search for an immersion mixer, then I go to investing.com and then I start to get adds for immersion mixers there. Google is even worse