- Three former employees claim Yahoo secretly scanned its customers’ emails at the request of the National Security Agency or FBI, according to an anonymous Reuters sources. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to obey the order angered some senior executives, including Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who left the company soon after.
- The former employees say Yahoo built a custom software program to perform the searches, which looked for specific information. It is not known exactly what type of information the government sought in customers' emails.
- The case may be the first in which a company was asked to search all incoming messages rather than only a small number of messages or stored messages. The report said the request to search Yahoo Mail accounts was sent to the company's legal team in 2015.
Though U.S. phone and internet companies have sent data in bulk to federal agencies before, this could be the first time a company was asked to turn over such a broad amount of data or to write a program to collect it.
The use of encryption by tech companies has grown this year because of Apple’s high-profile battle with the FBI over access to the iPhone used by one of the gunmen in last December’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino. As a result, tech companies are encrypting data more often.
A Ponemon Institute study released in June found the use of encryption in the enterprise rose last year by the largest amount in the study's 11-year history. But companies that encrypt data may see more requests for data like the one Yahoo reportedly received.
Heated debate between privacy experts and government officials over encryption looks likely to continue until some sort of precedence is set. Though the targeted emails were consumers', the question of government oversight into private data could be cause for concern for many companies.