Why is the US Government reading your emails?

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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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Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).
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50 Comments

Total Comments: 50
  1. 0
    0

    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

  2. 0
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    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.

  3. 0
    0

    I don’t care what they read

  4. 0
    0

    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.

    • 0
      0

      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.

    • 0
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      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.

    • 0
      0

      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.

    • 0
      0

      Aye, but I smell the slow boiling of frogs from yon witches den…

  5. 0
    0

    In God We Trust – no one else.

  6. 0
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    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.

    • 0
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      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?

    • 0
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      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!

  7. 0
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    Very early in the life of email systems, I was warned that emails have about the same level of privacy as a postcard.

  8. 0
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    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!

  9. 0
    0

    In god we trust? Which of the thousands of Roman, Hindu, Norse, Muslim, etc, etc, not to mention the many other deities……..????!!!

  10. 0
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    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

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