What could be a major blow to the trust of hundreds of million users with Yahoo accounts, the company had secretly built a secret program to monitor all incoming emails for the US Intelligence officials. It’s not clear whether it was the NSA or FBI who approached the company for surveillance, and this news has come through an exclusive report from Reuters through former employees.
There’s no information on what the officials were looking for but usually such requests include certain words or phrases or a set of characters in emails. There’s also no information on what information was shared by Yahoo to the officials or even whether they handed over any information.
The report says that the surveillance program began back in spring after a classified government order was received. This apparently led to the resignation of Chief Information Security Officer, Alex Stamos back in 2015, who went on to take over an important role in Facebook’s security. Yahoo maintains a transparency report over government requests from various countries on its website, but there’s no mention about these requests. After the order was received, Mayer and other executives bowed down to the request which upset many employees back then. Along with Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell, they went on to have the program built without the knowledge of the company’s security team.
Later in May 2015, the security found out about the program eventually and thought they had been hacked. This triggered Stamos to leave his role for compromising with user’s security who also mentioned that a programming flaw could have given hackers access to stored emails.