Yahoo email scan fell under foreign spy law -sources

Thu Oct 6, 2016 10:21pm EDT
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(This October 5 story has been corrected to show court order did not come under Section 702 of FISA. Headline and para 1 have also been corrected to remove references to soon-expiring law.)

By Mark Hosenball and Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Yahoo operation in 2015 to scan the incoming email of its customers for specific information identified by the U.S. government was authorized under a foreign intelligence law, U.S. government officials familiar with the matter said.

Reuters on Tuesday reported that the Yahoo program was in response to a classified U.S. government request to scan emails belonging to hundreds of millions of Yahoo users.

The revelation rekindled a long-running debate in the United States over the proper balance between digital privacy and national security.

The Department of Justice obtained the order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, said the sources, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

The order came under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related specifically to Yahoo, but it is possible similar such orders have been issued to other telecom and internet companies, the sources said.

Two government sources previously said the request was issued under a provision of the law known as Section 702, but Reuters subsequently learned the information was incorrect. Section 702 will expire on Dec. 31, 2017, unless lawmakers act to renew it.

In a statement on Wednesday, Yahoo said Tuesday's report by Reuters was "misleading" and that the "mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems."   Continued...

A man walks past a Yahoo logo during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo