Just when you thought all the cynicism about government spying couldn’t get any worse. According to a Reuters report, Yahoo created a special program that allows it to search all of the incoming email messages sent to its users. The program was created to help U.S. intelligence agencies track certain data from its users. It can specifically target any keywords or queries given to Yahoo by intelligence officials.
According to Yahoo’s transparency report, the company works hard to earn the trust of their users and to maintain their privacy. The report also mentions that user data can be sent to government officials if it is requested by them. However, the report doesn’t talk about the custom program that Yahoo developed specifically for helping the government. This is what has many Yahoo users upset.
Former employees of Yahoo informed Reuters about this classified surveillance. They claimed Yahoo has conducted the surveillance on user email messages since the spring of 2015 after a classified government order was given to them. In an interview with TechCrunch, a Yahoo spokesperson said their company is simply cooperating with the government and following the laws of the United States.
Attorneys which represent the American Civil Liberties Union claim this classified government order was unconstitutional and an abuse of federal power. Yahoo disagrees and says the government had a right to request this information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Reportedly, there were over 21,000 user accounts that had their data searched with Yahoo’s custom program during the first half of 2015.
So what do you think? Should the federal government have the right to search your emails in order to help with their national security efforts? Some people would say it’s okay while others still consider it an invasion of privacy.