According to a new report, Yahoo built a secret software program last year to scan all of its users’ incoming emails for the National Security Agency. It’s claimed that Yahoo’s program was capable of scanning the emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials. It’s believed that this might very well be the first case in which an internet company willingly agreed to spy on its users to comply with an NSA request.

Reuters reports that Yahoo scanned hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts “at the behest” of the NSA or FBI, the report quotes two former employees and a third person who was apprised of the events.

Surveillance experts are of the view that this is the first case of its kind in which an internet company agreed to scan all incoming mail for specific information as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a limited number of accounts in real time.

It’s unclear what the NSA or FBI wanted Yahoo to search for, sources said they only wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters which could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment. Reuters says it’s unable to determine what data Yahoo might have provided to the intelligence agencies and whether similar requests were made to other email providers besides Yahoo.

Yahoo declined to comment on the matter, it only said the following in a brief statement provided to the scribe: “Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States.” The National Security Agency declined to comment as well.

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