Why is the US Government reading your emails?

The emails of 280 million people worldwide are being scanned by the US Government.

Why is the US Government reading your emails?

According to three former Yahoo employees, the email accounts of 280 million people worldwide are being scanned by the US Government.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, the former employees claim that last year, the US Government approached Yahoo asking it to build and implement a program that would search every email received on the Yahoo Mail network. Any emails received that contain a specific set of characters would then be passed onto the National Security Agency or the FBI.

This is the first recorded case of a US internet company agreeing to implement a US Government request to search arriving mail, instead of the normal procedures of tracking specific accounts or scanning stored messages.

Experts such as Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Patrick Toomey, believe Yahoo should have challenged the surveillance order before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"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," said Mr Toomey.

Read more at www.abc.net.au
Read more at www.reuters.com

Opinion: Take action and change now

The US Government has overstepped the mark and invaded the privacy of 280 million Yahoo Mail account holders worldwide. While we can all get angry with the US Government for making the request, at the end of the day, Yahoo complied instead of fighting for the rights of its users’ privacy.

So how much of a threat to your privacy is this software that is scanning Yahoo Mail accounts and how does it work? The software operates by searching every email that is received via the Yahoo server, for a specific set of characters. It has not been disclosed just how many specific character sets are being searched.

Let’s assume one of the character searches was ‘bomb’ and you receive an email from a friend telling you how they have been bombarded at work. An alert would be triggered and your email captured for reading by the US Government. What if your boss emailed you about the company’s new ‘bombproof’ plan to raise sales by 70 per cent? Yes, that will also trigger it. Or how about an email discussion with your son about how the Essendon ‘Bombers’ played on the weekend? That too, would be captured by the US Government.

This isn’t the first piece of bad news to come out about Yahoo in recent months. Last month it was revealed that more than 500 million Yahoo accounts were breached in 2014, in what is being described as the largest ever hack of user accounts.

In recent years, Yahoo has been passed by its competitors in almost every facet of online technology. This latest privacy invasion is the nail in the coffin for me, and I would highly recommend all Yahoo Mail users to seek an alternative service.

Do you have a Yahoo Mail account? Will this latest report make you change email services? Do you have an email service worth recommending?

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    COMMENTS

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    Hobbit
    6th Oct 2016
    10:58am
    If they are reading my emails, they should be warned that I will take no responsibility for any of their operatives who die of boredom
    PIXAPD
    6th Oct 2016
    11:15am
    HA HA good one
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:41pm
    Yeah....although I am a bit worried about my old 'bomb' car. Chuckle.
    jackie
    6th Oct 2016
    12:43pm
    Ha ha they can scan mine as much as they want as I am no Hillary Clinton.
    Spitfire
    6th Oct 2016
    12:51pm
    As far as I am concerned, they can fill their boots, nothing worth reading about from my ASIO bunker for a bunch of Mother's to see.
    Oars
    6th Oct 2016
    11:10am
    What's news. China has an army of email sifters- and they scan every email, fax, and phone call. Aren't you glad to be in the "lucky country" ?

    Too much.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:42pm
    Give it time. The "lucky country" is running out of luck fast.
    PIXAPD
    6th Oct 2016
    11:15am
    I don't care what they read
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:51pm
    Terrorist Playboy (with burqas)?
    TREBOR
    6th Oct 2016
    11:15am
    I post on this and another for some very incendiary ideas and comments that reflect (their lurid flames licking the sky shine on them anyway) very badly on the ruling cliques and their shenanigans.

    I have no doubt this has already drawn the internet Predators to me, and that their is a serious surveillance already long in place.

    My personal emails? No government in its right mind would even want to look at them. But then - who ever said any government was in its right mind, unless that 'right mind' was a Fascist mindset?

    There is government and there is shadow government - so be aware that changing the guard in the elected houses is not necessarily a cure... a US Navy Admiral who took over the CIA via political appointment found that he was obstructed at every turn, for example, back in the late 60's.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:44pm
    Not sure if the dark web is safe. Have heard a bit about this but as I have nothing to hide apart from my vitriol towards the Abbott and Turnbull misfit governments I don't much care.
    TREBOR
    6th Oct 2016
    12:55pm
    Same here, Mick, and if they don't like it they are quite free to leave the kitchen.

    It becomes a worry any democracy when anti-government thoughts become cause for someone pursuing the possibility of sanction against the person(s) who hold them. Those are called 'dissidents' and from my recollection, dissidence is not yet a crime in the West....

    JFK once said that any organisation or structure that could not contain dissent within its ranks and deal effectively with it through mediation and negotiation (that's the gist anyway), was not a strong one.

    EVERY organisation needs at least one NO man to counter-balance the YES men.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    2:01pm
    Governments are a worry as they want dominance and no dissent. At least we have not reached the Turkey dictatorship behaviour.....yet. But Herr Abbott was getting close.
    TREBOR
    6th Oct 2016
    7:16pm
    Aye, but I smell the slow boiling of frogs from yon witches den...

    6th Oct 2016
    11:41am
    In God We Trust - no one else.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:52pm
    Glad you did not include politicians.
    Peking
    6th Oct 2016
    11:47am
    I can't believe this came under the heading of "restore privacy to you emails". Move from Yahoo by all means, and for other reasons, but do not do so in the belief that the popular alternatives offer absolute privacy.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:54pm
    The issue is that you have governments approaching ISPs to carry out this function. Last time I read this was an issue in Australia although not sure if the government abandoned this move or whether it has snuck into law and the media left it alone. Anybody know?
    TREBOR
    6th Oct 2016
    12:58pm
    They'll have snuck it in some way - by some 'accord' or 'in-house self-monitoring' clause or through some regulation not held up to public scrutiny via the legislative process.

    I've warned for many years that 70%-odd of government is carried on by regulation and not legislation - which is why any properly constituted court or body (such as a sitting Commission) should be absolutely online with the fact that any ILLEGAL regulation is as bad as any illegal law, and requires the same treatment....

    Out you go, sonny!

    6th Oct 2016
    11:54am
    Very early in the life of email systems, I was warned that emails have about the same level of privacy as a postcard.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:55pm
    As does your personal details which can easily be used for identity fraud purposes. That one concerns me much more than emails.
    Not Senile Yet!
    6th Oct 2016
    12:12pm
    Gmail..hotmail...etc....great news!
    Your rival...Yahoo...is about to bite the dust!
    Then again...great move to spread rumours to down value them....before you buy them out at a despessed price!
    Blondie
    6th Oct 2016
    12:41pm
    In god we trust? Which of the thousands of Roman, Hindu, Norse, Muslim, etc, etc, not to mention the many other deities........????!!!
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:56pm
    Come on! You understood what meant...and it wasn't Mohammed.
    TREBOR
    6th Oct 2016
    12:59pm
    In Dog We Trust - he who barks last barks best...
    KSS
    6th Oct 2016
    5:41pm
    Because Mohammad is a prophet NOT a God. That is Allah!
    PIXAPD
    6th Oct 2016
    12:52pm
    IF Trump wins... the weirdos will be calling Trump...the last TRUMP and claiming the Lord is coming HA HA HA...just a matter of time for the AMERICAN CRAZIES to start
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:57pm
    I'll be playing 500 and going no trumps.
    Rosret
    6th Oct 2016
    12:59pm
    If Trump is selected then we all do have something to fear. It won't be just the terrorists in fear for their lives. Hitler would love this guy!
    PIXAPD
    6th Oct 2016
    4:29pm
    Next month Americans will vote for which clown they want as the Ring Master in the Big Top.
    Rosret
    6th Oct 2016
    12:54pm
    Google is checking so is Facebook etc. too. Buy any product and you'll get all sorts of similar advertisements (after you have bought the product)!
    I am most concerned about Yahoo and Twitters huge hack where all the passwords have been stolen making our details vulnerable. Especially when important passwords are sent to the email address. i.e. Census, Super, Billing and Tax
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    12:59pm
    I am more thinking these are in your emails. You have a point Rosret, but personal stuff in encrypted so unlikely users have been exposed. That's why you should never send these sort of details in an email.
    Rosret
    6th Oct 2016
    1:02pm
    Mick, they aren't giving us a choice.
    MICK
    6th Oct 2016
    1:58pm
    And then there is the dark web which is unregulated and which is not an open book. Or so I understand.
    Old Geezer
    6th Oct 2016
    2:28pm
    Good I hope they open all those ones that are infected with viruses that I delete daily.
    Old Man
    6th Oct 2016
    3:00pm
    If reading my boring emails is the price I have to pay to discover terrorists then I say "Go for it". If just one life is saved then my privacy can be invaded.
    gravy
    6th Oct 2016
    3:45pm
    The only safe email you can send is an encrypted one. Emails on their journey generally pass through many other computers (servers) on the way to the recipient's inbox.

    Emails are mostly plain text (with some html coding if it is html based) and each point of transfer can capture the traffic and edit it, read it, pass it on to other mail boxes; so if you think any un-encrypted email is safe you are very much mistaken.

    What the article is mentioning is that the company you may be using to receive and/or send your emails is deciding without your knowledge to allow a third party unrestricted access to their servers to view and copy anything they want (currently based on some keywords).

    You may currently be safe from harassment but what if the nature of the Government or their organisations change and they decide that something that that is currently legal, even the expression of some lifestyle or some membership of a group, is then illegal, how secure will you perhaps feel then.

    If you were a Jew in Germany before Hilter and his cronies came to power you probably felt pretty secure. It was only after the Nazi Party got power that to be a Jew, some other religions, people with mental disabilities, homosexuals and so on became a death sentence and now you say these days "I have nothing to hide", "I am safe", "they won't be worried about me".

    I always notice that a few say they can read my "whole life" I have nothing to hide and yet if you found the kid down the road reading your letters before re-sending them to you how would you feel? Most if not all would say this is an invasion of "my" privacy and it is against the law and you would expect action to be taken. But if it is some obscure agency that you have no control over, that may be in a completely different country, that you have no right to censure, and no right to see what information they have garnered about you does a similar/same action, you feel that is all ok.

    Sadly this hearkens to "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
    Old Geezer
    6th Oct 2016
    4:00pm
    Nothing is safe in the online world.

    Had to laugh the other day as I had to change some settings in some firmware. Normally one would ask the company that owned that firmware how to fix it but that company has long since been buried in the corporate graveyard. I was asked what I was doing and my answer was hacking. Yes I used a hacking technique to get into it to fix it. Given a bit of computer language learning and it's not that hard.

    If I can hack into firmware then the clever hackers can hack anything.
    gravy
    6th Oct 2016
    6:53pm
    I agree given enough time anything is doable but to say hacking firmware is the same as someone hacking an encrypted email is a bit of a stretch.

    Most modern encryption uses very strong keys and methods which as at today would take some 10's of thousand years to break. That is why the NSA were given powers to hold encrypted information as long as they liked so they could try to break it and study it.

    Will the encryption of today hold up to the computing power of tomorrow when they use quantum computers? Probably not but your information today is pretty secure if you use correct techniques (which aren't hard to learn) and continue to update as needed.

    Hacking of accounts occur because proper security techniques and policies were and are not followed. Yahoo for instance stored information in a non-secure way when they lost control of the details of 500 million accounts.

    You however as a user have a choice of how you send your information and if you don't want the kid down the street snooping on it then protect it. That is why Banks uses encryption when you access their online portals, why Medicare uses encryption when you lodge claims online or through your health professional's portal, and why commerce sites should use encryption when you pay online.

    For these it is the use of certificates that allow them to create secure pages (pages that start with https) and you do need certificates for encrypting emails but they are available and some sites provide free encryption be it for email or chat.

    In fact my access to this site is by use of encryption as I use the https version of this site. My interaction only becomes public when I choose such as in these forums.
    gravy
    6th Oct 2016
    10:55pm
    In the opinion piece it asked if there were any recommendations regarding email providers. All email providers can be used but your email client (the program you use) might need to change if you want security or you can go with providers who already supply encryption as their main aim..

    Thunderbird by Mozilla has the ability to encrypt your email before it leaves your computer, Thunderbird is free but there are a few steps you need to take to enable proper encryption.

    A paid encryption provider/client is Startmail https://www.startmail.com/ and may be worth a look. Also Postbox https://www.postbox-inc.com/ is another "pay for" client that uses the same free encryption add on as Thunderbird does.

    If you want to find other free email providers with encryption added I suggest you do a search using perhaps a term similar to "free encrypted email providers" (without the quotes).

    Once you think you have found one you like do a bit of research on it to make sure it provides what you want and does what it says.

    Have a read of this article https://www.deepdotweb.com/2015/08/03/which-secure-email-provider-is-the-one-for-you/ and do read the comments as they give great pointers to other services. The article is a little dated as Lavaboom didn't really last long but still worth the read.

    Just to name a couple worth checking ProtonMail https://protonmail.com/ , Tutanota https://tutanota.com/
    LiveItUp
    7th Oct 2016
    8:12am
    If you have your own email hosting you can set the level of security required before emails are downloaded on you r computer.

    However if you need something keep private the best idea is to keep it away from any technology.
    quietguy
    7th Oct 2016
    10:52am
    They have a system that is tuned to pickup emails that contain particular words - I once sent an email to a friend commenting it seems they (US idiots) might try to assassinate Obama because he is black.

    A day or so later I got an email from the CIA asking about where I lived, what I did for a living etc. I answered, but heard nothing further
    ex PS
    7th Oct 2016
    2:30pm
    Who cares?
    PIXAPD
    8th Oct 2016
    12:51pm
    Exactly.....
    john
    7th Oct 2016
    4:44pm
    Of course the US government is scanning my emails, I get enough ads telling me I can pick up my $10,000 dollar loan as its been approved, or they keep trying to sell me insurance or they advertise Obamacare. Actually I 've been told I have been approved for all sorts of loans I never applied for ha ha ha!
    Maybe the Yanks are trying to catch scammers, but I couldn't care less I have nothing to hide. I usually wind up arguing with someone on facebook, so if they do listen in and any of them want a good debate, I'm up for an argument any second of the day, because MR AMERICA I am a opinionated argumentative little bastard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Libby
    8th Oct 2016
    10:34pm
    I have nothing to hide and if Yahoo is letting the US government dickheads read our personal stuff then we're an open book all over the world! On the other hand, what about Hotmail or Gmail? How do we know they're not doing the same thing? Computers are more trouble than they're worth!
    Eddy
    9th Oct 2016
    3:44pm
    I'm have no problem with anyone scanning my emails for legitimate reasons, such as combatting terrorism. I also have no objection to other public monitoring technologies, such as CCTV, speed cameras. booze buses, facial recognition, DNA collection, fingerprinting etc that may help keep my grandchildren a little safer. For the same reason I thought the recent action by Apple to protect their encryption technology from law enforcement was morally indefensible.
    Radish
    10th Oct 2016
    6:44pm
    I believe they look for "key" words in emails and I am sure they are selecting people with a certain "profile"...the average joe blow would be of no interest I am sure.
    ex PS
    10th Oct 2016
    7:42pm
    I hope one off those words isn't Viagra or Russian Brides, since I turned 55 I have been inundated with adds for these products. I guess if you get one you need the other?
    GrayComputing
    20th Oct 2016
    12:22pm
    There are no secure systems anywhere in the world. Period!
    Even our parliament's cisco routers are sending all out politicians mail directly to the NSA.
    And no I am not some raving paranoid anti technology luddite.
    I have worked with some serious computer security people
    anjelahot
    2nd Nov 2016
    11:59pm
    i am glad to be sharing this message,i thought i lost everything i had worked for ,until i met this hacker who was able to help me recover all my stolen funds which my ex-fiancee tookaway from me, you need to contact WALTSTEPH82@GMAIL.COM incase you need a haacker to make your life better.


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