As Americans, we all value our right to privacy — or at least we should — protected by the Fourth Amendment, which is why so many folks were livid after discovering the NSA was spying on citizens without a warrant.
Regardless of where you stand on Edward Snowden’s actions, we can surely agree the government doesn’t have the right to spy on individuals without a warrant.
Well, if you’re a believer in privacy and you’re also a Yahoo customer, there’s some bad news you need to hear.
Reuters is reporting, Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.
Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.
It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.
Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request.
It’s highly likely that the NSA and the FBI have asked other Internet companies for the same kind of information, and there’s a high probability some of these companies agreed to comply, putting your privacy at risk.
No, the government does not have the right to dig through your emails without permission, probable cause, or a search warrant, no matter what excuse they might toss out to try justifying their intrusion.
We should strive to avoid becoming people willing to trade liberty for security, because it’s guaranteed the government will abuse such an arrangement.
The takeaway from this is to make sure you are careful about what kind of information you share in emails and how much of your life you put online, because as you can see, Big Brother is indeed watching you.
[Note: This article was written by Michael Cantrell]