Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
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.
The Intercept points out that this means Yahoo lied to users about its privacy policies:
The fact that every single Yahoo email account was subject to this surveillance seems at odds with figures in Yahoo’s transparency report, which claims fewer than 20,000 accounts were tapped at the behest of the U.S. government. It would also appear to run contrary to the spirit of two quotations on Yahoo’s transparency site, where Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell claims, “We fight any requests that we deem unclear, improper, overbroad, or unlawful,” and Mayer says, “We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it.”