Yahoo denies mass spying claim

File photo of A Yahoo logo is pictured on the front of a building in Rolle, 19 miles east of Geneva, Dec. 12, 2012. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File photo)

Yahoo denies building spying software for the scanning of all its customers’ incoming e-mails for the AMERICAN intelligence services, a claim reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that Yahoo complied with a classified government directive to scan YahooMail accounts at the request of the National Security Agency or the FBI. The software, which was built last year, saw on incoming e-mails from the hundreds of millions of accounts, it said.

Yahoo described the article as misleading if, in a statement issued early Wednesday. “We narrowly interpret each government request for user data to minimize disclosure,” he said. “The e-mail scanning as described in the article is not on our systems.”


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In a brief initial statement broadcast on Tuesday, Yahoo said that it is a law-abiding company that complies with the laws of the United States.

The Reuters report quoted two unnamed former Yahoo employees and a third person who is aware of the events.

It is unknown what the intelligence officials were looking for, only that she wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters, which could mean a sentence in an e-mail, the sources said. It is also unknown what information, if any, was given, and if intelligence officials approached other e-mail providers with similar requests

Following the report, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that it does not discuss specific techniques used for the collection of foreign intelligence. “It is important to remember that the Intelligence Community has specific tools available for the collection of intelligence information, including Foreign intelligence and Surveillance Act,” said ODNI Public Affairs Deputy Director Richard Kolko. “The collection under FISA is subject to rigorous oversight by all three branches of the government. Under FISA, the activity is aimed only at specific foreign intelligence targets and does not involve bulk collection or use of generic words or phrases. The United States only uses signals intelligence for national security purposes, and not for the purpose of indiscriminately reviewing the emails or phone calls of ordinary people.”

The National Security Agency and the FBI have not yet responded to a request for comment on this story

This report comes on the heels of Yahoo’s announcement that the “state-sponsored” hackers had gained access to 500 million accounts in 2014.

Fox News’ Matthew Dean contributed to this report.

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