User privacy was breached when Yahoo allegedly got involved in an intelligence-related conspiracy with the government.
Last year, the company secretly created a custom software program to go through all its customers’ incoming emails to look for particular pieces of information provided by U.S. intelligence officials. The news was revealed by people familiar with the matter.
Hundreds of millions of mail accounts under the company were scanned as an act of compliance with the U.S. government. The scanning was performed upon the order of the National Security Agency or FBI, as revealed by three former employees and a fourth additional person.
According to Reuters, several experts on surveillance stated that the event represents the first case of a U.S. internet company complying to an intelligence agency’s request to scan all incoming messages.
However, the incident is different from evaluating stored messages or searching a small number of accounts in real time.
With reports circulating on how the surveillance program was particularly performed in 2015, questions were raised whether other tech companies like Google also participated.
“We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘no way’,” said a Google spokesperson when asked if the NSA ordered the company to build similar custom software to scan Gmail, as quoted by Fortune.
It was also reported by Fortune that Yahoo has not refuted information reported by the media outlets. The company only informed that it complied with all U.S. laws.
However, for Microsoft, which controls a huge number of Hotmail accounts, the company has entirely disagreed on the issue of participating in a similar surveillance program.
“We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo,” the company said in a statement.