It was reported yesterday that Yahoo complied with a secret government order to scan incoming email of all of its users for the NSA and the FBI. It was claimed that Yahoo built a special software tool to make this possible. The company didn’t offer an explanation yesterday, only saying that it’s a law abiding company that complies with the laws of the United States. It has now sent out a statement saying that the claims made in the report are “misleading.”
A spokesperson for Yahoo provided the following statement: “The article is misleading. We narrowly interpret every government request for user data to minimize disclosure. The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.”
It’s interesting to note that Yahoo has not outright denied working with intelligence agencies on what was claimed in the report. By saying that such a program “does not exist on our systems” the company might be telling the truth in that it’s no longer scanning all incoming emails, but that doesn’t mean this system was never put in place, at least that’s not the impression one gets from Yahoo’s statement.
Another troubling report claimed that the approval for this secret program came directly from the top leadership including CEO Marissa Mayer. It’s said that the company’s security team was not even informed and when they came across the special software during their routine tests they initially believed that hackers had installed the email scanning program on Yahoo’s systems.
It remains to be seen whether Yahoo will categorically deny if it was involved in something like this or whether it’s going to offer any further explanation into how this came to be.