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"No way!" - Tech companies respond to Yahoo scanning emails for US Intelligence agencies

(Image credit: Image Credit: Dennizn / Shutterstock)

With the release of the news that Yahoo had previously worked with US intelligence agencies to develop custom software to scan emails, other tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Apple have all announced that they did not receive similar requests.

 It is the belief of many security experts that this is the first time in which a US internet company has agreed to a request from an intelligence agency to provide it with access to its users' emails.

A spokesperson for Twitter made it clear that it had never received such a request and that the company is firmly against the government forcing tech companies to share their user information, saying: “We've never received a request like this, and were we to receive it we'd challenge it in 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.”

Microsoft was critical of Yahoo's actions and offered its position on the issue, saying: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.”

Google also confirmed that it had never been asked to develop software to spy on the emails of its users with a company spokesperson saying: “We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: no way."

Apple has previously dealt with these sorts of requests after the San Bernardino attacks. At that time, the FBI demanded it develop custom software to allow the agency to unlock an iPhone connected with the case. Apple was able to fight the case and win which led the FBI to resort to seeking help from hackers to unlock the phone.  A spokesperson for the company said: “We have never received a request of this type. If we were to receive one, we would oppose it in court.”

Facebook's response resembled Apple's and Twitter's with the company saying: “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.” 

Image Credit: Dennizn / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.