Yahoo secretly created a custom software program and used it to do a massive search of all of its customers’ incoming emails, Reuters reports, citing sources who are familiar with the situation. The search was for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, the story reports.
“The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events,” Reuters reports.
The report adds: “Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency’s request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.”
While it is known that intelligence officials requested a search for a set of characters, the specific characters are not known.
“Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request,” the report adds.
Asked by Reuters about the report, the company responded with a brief statement that said only: “Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States.”