Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have all said they would never do such a thing.
According to Reuters, Yahoo built in 2015, at the US government’s request, software that scans literally all emails for certain information provided by either the National Security Agency or the FBI. The software was never mentioned in Yahoo’s biannual transparency report. In the latter half of 2015, the company received 4,460 total government data requests, for 9,373 accounts, that it would classify as “Government Data Requests,” a category that includes National Security Letters from the FBI and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests.
According to the Reuters report, the Yahoo programme was known to only a handful of employees.
A Facebook representative said “Facebook has never received a request like the one described in these news reports from any government, and if we did we would fight it.”
Google said the same: “We’ve never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: ‘no way.’”
A Microsoft spokesperson added: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.”
A representative for Twitter replied that: “We’ve never received a request like this, and were we to receive it we’d challenge it in a court. 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.”
While Apple declined to give a statement on the record it has previously said it would never do anything like that.
Yahoo is coming out looking like the bad guy. It is in talks to be acquired by Verizon, but also facing another scandal for suffering the largest known user data leak in history, with 500 million users’ information exposed. However it failed to mention it to its users.