World Bulletin / News Desk
The American Civil Liberties Union, Edward Snowden and others criticized Yahoo after an unverified report released Tuesday claimed the company scanned all of its users' emails for the National Security Agency.
Following a request from the NSA last year, Yahoo built software that scanned all emails sent or received by users for a specific word, media reports said Tuesday. Reports did not reveal what word was searched.
“Based on this report, the order issued to Yahoo appears to be unprecedented and unconstitutional," ACLU staff attorney Patrick Toomey said in a statement. “The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicionless search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit. It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo declined to challenge this sweeping surveillance order, because customers are counting on technology companies to stand up to novel spying demands in court."
Yahoo has not confirmed nor denied the charges.
"Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States," the company said in a statement.
Yahoo is currently in the process of being acquired by telecommunications giant Verizon in a $4.8 billion deal. The possible NSA entanglement is the second major shock from Yahoo in two months. In September, the company revealed it was hacked and 500 million accounts were compromised – making it the victim of quite possibly the largest hack in history.
Snowden, who revealed a massive surveillance program operated by the NSA, urged Yahoo users to quit the service.
“Use Yahoo? They secretly scanned everything you ever wrote, far beyond what law requires," Snowden tweeted. “Close your account today."
Amnesty International also dashed off a disapproving statement regarding the company.
“If true, this news will greatly undermine trust in the internet," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of technology and human rights at the organization.