Two days after the revelation by the news agency Reuters that Yahoo had implemented a mass surveillance of emails between users, the New York Times reveals more details on how this program worked. According to the US daily, the company revised its antispam filter service – also used to detect child pornography – for it to be able to detect certain “digital signatures” (keywords), and transmits the thus detected messages the FBI, the Federal Police.
According to the FBI, investigators made the request after finding that members of a terrorist group, unidentified at this point, using the Yahoo! services to communicate, using a method that required an identification element “largely single “. Investigators say they did not know what e-mail boxes were used for these exchanges, which is why they asked Yahoo! to set up this mass surveillance.
Also according to the New York Times, the request of the FBI, validated by a secret court, was accompanied by a prohibition on Yahoo !, to reveal the existence of this filter system.
Protests in Europe
In Europe, the Commission for the protection of private data – the Irish equivalent of the CNIL – in charge of the control of Yahoo! for Europe, announced that it had opened an investigation to determine whether European citizens were improperly put under surveillance. “Any mass surveillance as violating the fundamental rights of European citizens would be a cause of serious concern,” said the Commission.
Several MEPs, including the German Fabio Masi (Die Linke), have asked the European Commission to ask for explanations to the US authorities. The revelation of this case comes just months after the adoption of the agreement says “Privacy Shield,” which governs transfers of personal data between the United States and Europe, which theoretically banned mass surveillance of any form. But opponents of the text denounced the lack of concrete guarantees offered by the United States on this point, despite the possibility, introduced by the Agreement, to complain to the United States for European citizens abused monitoring.