National Security and privacy are two issues that have stirred up a huge debate in the United States. Recently, reports were made against Yahoo saying that Yahoo had an operation to scan emails for its customers for information. This operation was authorized by the government.
This was under a foreign intelligence law. However, certain sources state that parts of the law under which this operation with Yahoo falls is expiring next year. When users of Yahoo and others found out about this operation, a huge debate stirred up in the United States. Sources say that the operation was authorized by a warrant given by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which is secret.
Unless it is renewed, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 702 will expire on 31st of December 2017. This is the law under which the request to Yahoo came. Although the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was only sent to Yahoo, the sources say that it might be possible for the same orders to have been issued other such companies. Even though Yahoo denied this, they couldn’t say which parts of the reports made were untrue.
In other reports, former employees of Yahoo claim that once the program meant to scan the emails was discovered, the security team of the company disabled it. It was not reinstalled until the Chief Security Officer of Facebook resigned from his former position as the Chief Security Officer at Yahoo.
The National Security agency has stated that they only look into targeted individuals only by using email addresses or similar kinds of information under Section 702. However, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court’s Section 702 allows a type of spying referred to as upstream. This allows the National Security Agency to copy data from web traffic flowing under the internet backbone which is located on the land of the United States and look for some information concerning a certain person who has been made a target.
It also governs a program that gathers messaging data involving a certain foreign targeted individual (under surveillance) from large companies such as Microsoft Corp, Apple, Google, Facebook Inc. and other such tech organizations. This program is known as Prism. The program was exposed by Edward Snowden who is a former National Security Agency contractor.
The Government officials have tried to defend the United States surveillance operations saying that the operations are transparent and balanced but did not deny reports about the surveillance program with Yahoo. The issue with Yahoo has raised issues of privacy and Edward Snowden who exposed the issue said that the Yahoo program brings up the issue on whether such Surveillance Programs by the Government should be scrutinized by the government.