It was recently discovered that Yahoo allowed the United States government to sift through the emails of private users through the use of secret software. They had developed the surveillance software in secret, keeping it from their own employees. Not only that, but this case was the first of its kind in that the emails that were examined were the incoming ones rather than stored ones. Today we’re going to be going over this case in a bit more detail and showing you what it may mean for the future of online privacy.
The privacy of Yahoo’s end users was compromised.
According to Reuter’s, it is likely that the people asking for the information were either the NSA or the FBI. Considering that the NSA often turns to the FBI to conduct their investigations, it is hard to determine who actually made the request. Furthermore, it is also difficult to find out whether or not there were any actual pieces of information handed over to said government agencies. What we do know that they were looking for a specific combination of characters within all incoming mail and that Yahoo was willing to not only do this surveillance, but to hand it over to the government. The other thing we know for sure is that, at present, this is completely legal within the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This act allows for government agencies to conduct surveillance that may help with stopping terrorist activity. However, it should be noted that Yahoo could have disputed the request, though it seems they declined to do so. Email providers Microsoft and Google responded to this event by saying that they would never have allowed this to happen.
Cloud services can be somewhat open.
Let this event serve as an example of what could happen when you put your data storage into the hands of a cloud provider. There’s no need to panic, necessarily, but you should be taking this information into account as you manage your company’s digital assets. You need to make an effort to ensure that your customer and employee online privacy is handled thoroughly and professionally. This will come at an additional cost to you, but is the cost truly worth it?
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