Poor Yahoo. Once upon a time, the once-ubiquitous search giant seemed to have it all. The love of Wall Street, the affection of the media, massive traffic, and nearly every other thing that was good to have was squarely in their corner. After years of constant bungling and basically screwing up its value for investors and employees, trust in the company’s services is at an all-time low. The sting over the discovery of more than 500 million hacked email accounts is barely over, yet here we are looking at another email scandal. The company is under scrutiny after a report from Reuters detailing how the once popular email and messaging service built a custom program for use of U.S. intelligence officials to spy on people.
According to former Yahoo employees, the program allegedly allowed the government to scan millions of Yahoo Mails at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI. The sources also stated that this decision by CEO Marissa Mayer did not sit well with some of the senior executives, which led to the departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos in June 2015. Stamos now holds a top position in Facebook’s security team. Good for Stamos for sticking to his principles.
Is Yahoo alone?
Though this revelation centers on Yahoo’s questionable practices when dealing with its users’ data, some are also now questioning whether other big name companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter provided the government with the same access.
All four were adamant that they have never, and will never, create a special program just so the government can spy on its users. In fact, most of these companies are in battle with the government because they refused to give in.
“We’ve never received a request like this, and were we to receive it we’d challenge it in a court,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Separately, while federal law prohibits companies from being able to share information about certain types of national security related requests, we are currently suing the Justice Department for the ability to disclose more information about government requests.” Twitter’s lawsuit against the Justice Department is ongoing.
The bottom line is, while it’s possible and perhaps probable that other free email providers have been pressured to share information, Yahoo may have crossed the line for the final time. @yahoo.com addresses will increasingly go the way of @aol.com addresses. I can’t even remember the last time I sent or received one of those. Once Yahoo’s users leave, the company will probably be finished, especially if it loses its Verizon lifeline.
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