ACLU blasts Yahoo's secret email searches for government

ACLU blasts Yahoo's secret email searches for government
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is blasting an order from U.S. intelligence agencies that forced Yahoo to scan customers emails and turn over data as "unprecedented and unconstitutional."

"The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicionless search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit,” said Patrick ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE, ACLU attorney in a statement Tuesday.


The statement came after a Reuters report that said the tech giant had created custom software to search all of its users' incoming emails for information at the request of U.S. intelligence officials. The company complied with officials’ requests, scanning millions of emails of information of interest to the FBI and NSA.

Yahoo reportedly carried out the surveillance without notifying its own top security official. According to Reuters, that security chief later resigned after his team discovered the email scanning.

“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,” Toomey added.

“If this surveillance was conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, this story reinforces the urgent need for Congress to reform the law to prevent dragnet surveillance and require increased transparency.”

The email scanning is certain to reignite the debate over mass surveillance practices and privacy.

Democratic Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups MORE (Ore.) said U.S. intelligence may have overstepped its bounds.

“The NSA has said that it only targets individuals under Section 702 by searching for email addresses and similar identifiers. If that has changed, the executive branch has an obligation to notify the public,” Sen. Wyden said in a statement.