Yahoo, ACLU press US feds to disclose email snooping orders, surveillance laws

credyahoo Yahoo, ACLU press US feds to disclose email snooping orders, surveillance lawsYahoo

Yahoo has asked the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to declassify a surveillance demand the company received which resulted in a special program being set up to monitor customer emails for certain keywords.

The program, which operated in early 2015, forced Yahoo to build a tool which automatically scanned Yahoo Mail user messages for key words and phrases — a general order from either the NSA or FBI, rather than a targeted spying mission on particular users.

According to Reuters sources, Yahoo ran the software secretly before the firm’s engineers and security teams discovered the tool. Believing that the software was the work of external cyberattackers, they took the software down.

This secret data collection and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision not to appeal the order have thrown the company into a quagmire of criticism, of which Yahoo is unable to respond “in detail” due to the order, according to a letter sent by Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell to Clapper, which has now been posted online.

The letter (.PDF), revealed on Wednesday, asks Clapper to release the Yahoo order from classified status. The request reads:

“We urge your office to consider the following actions to provide clarity on the matter; (i) to confirm if such an order, as described in these media reports, was issued; (ii) declassify in whole or in part such order, if it exists; and (iii) make a sufficiently detailed public and contextual comment to clarify the alleged facts and circumstances.”

Yahoo previously called Reuter’s report “misleading” and denied the email scanning tool was present on the company’s systems, but declined to comment further. If Clapper agrees to Yahoo’s request, however, the tech giant will be at greater liberty to explain itself.