Reports have it that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has been granted access to private emails of customers for security purposes.
Internet technology giant Yahoo reportedly built a custom software program last year to scan all users’ incoming emails so as to comply with a classified order from U.S. intelligence.
In a Reuters exclusive report published on Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told the British media that the U.S. company has searched hundreds of millions of customers’ email accounts since last April at the request of the National Security Agency (NSA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Citing two unnamed former employees, it reported that the company’s decision to obey the order prompted at least two officials, including then-chief information security officer Alex Stamos, to leave last year over ethical issues concerning the program.
It was likely to be the first known case that a U.S. company agreed to an intelligence agency’s order by searching all incoming messages, but it was unclear what information the intelligence agencies were looking for and also what data Yahoo may have handed over, it reported.
“Yahoo is a law-abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” the company said in a statement, declining any further comment.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to a request for comment.
According to U.S. laws, the country’s intelligence agencies have the right to order phone and Internet companies to provide customer data when they believe there are possible connections with terror actions. It was not known whether other U.S. email providers received similar requests from the intelligence community.