If the meaning of downswing did not exist, Yahoo would certainly be able to create it. In addition to the internal crisis that has led to the closure or overhaul of its services (not counting its inevitable sales ), the company has faced a scandal after another. Last month, Yahoo admitted the leak of data from more than 500 million users . Now came the complaint that the company allowed the NSA and the FBI to spy over the Yahoo Mail accounts.
Since the spy scandal by the NSA came to light in 2013, the notion that online services are not 100% protected became clearer. Virtually no tech giant went unscathed. The problem in the Yahoo case is the scope: the company had cooperated with US authorities as no other company cooperated.
According to Reuters, two former Yahoo employees and a third person aware of the facts and revealed that the company attended a policy of the US government – based, possibly in section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation – which allowed the NSA and the FBI to scour millions of accounts in Yahoo Mail in 2015 looking for a specific type of information.
The detail that most surprised is that Yahoo has created a software to facilitate the research in the emails of users. The tool was developed to allow all messages that arrive in an account on Yahoo Mail were analyzed, although it is unclear what information the US authorities were looking for – is spoken only in a character set, which can be anything from a name of a code.
Does this spy action involved only Yahoo? Well, at least so far, there is no evidence that other technology companies have collaborated so openly with the US government. Anyway, the top names in the industry were sought by The Intercept and other means:
Apple: A spokesman said that Apple never received a request from the type that would have vehemently refused to accept it if it had been, still remembering the open letter regarding the case of San Bernardino. In it, Tim Cook said the company never created or will create a backdoor in their services.
Facebook and Google: Both companies said they never received a request like that, but have refused to cooperate if they received.
Microsoft: The company gave a similar response, but said it has received such a request.
Twitter: The service states that it will face the agencies in the courts if it received orders to execute this type of action.
While Yahoo was also sought, of course. But the answer that the company has given to the press is somewhat misleading: “Yahoo is a company that operates within the law, and that is in accordance with the laws of the United States.”
“It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo has not challenged the surveillance order, because customers rely on technology companies to resist the surveillance demands,” said Patrick Toomey, representative of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Hence, the security experts and privacy-rights advocates have given a single recommendation: stop using Yahoo Mail (or other services of the company) as soon as possible.