Just how safe are the emails that you send regularly? How secure do you feel sending information that might be seen as volatile or controversial to other people?
Do you worry that some of the things you send might be read or handed over to government officials due to a trigger word?
If you are paranoid about the security of your emails, you might not be entirely off. Yahoo recently came under some major fire from lawmakers after it was discovered that a secret US government outfit called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The group ordered Yahoo to hand over suspicious emails, but legislators did not know about the order causing an uproar.
Yahoo has told press that the company did, in fact, survey millions of user emails based on orders given by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The government outfit was looking for specific terms and trigger words that might have been used in the emails and related to potential terrorist attacks.
Lawmakers are arguing today that it is unlawful for the government to order such a search attempt without letting legislators know. The information was only divulged due to the order given by the government. All of this happened in 2015.
Filtering Email and Details
This is not the first time that an email service provider has been suspected or caught filtering email messages. Yahoo has stated before that the company filters emails for things such as child pornography, but filtering emails searching for specific content and keyword triggers related to terrorist activities was unknown to both lawmakers and the public at the time of the search.
All of this raises the question of whether or not email messages are truly safe. If you think about it, though, the answers is a resounding, ‘no.’ The reason why email messages are not secure is simple enough - companies like Yahoo and Google are not public companies.
As such, users may use these email services for free, but this does not mean that these companies cannot act as private companies (which often means obtaining user information). Lawmakers are particularly concerned that this type of scan and search might violate Fourth Amendment rights.
Keeping Your Email Secure
If you want to use a secure email service provider, using an email provider that is paid for on a regular basis is the best way to go - but even then, encrypted email is the only sure bet. If you use a free service like Yahoo, there’s always a possibility that your emails might be scanned, searched, or handed over to a government agency.
Yahoo has yet to comment on this case in detail, but some former Yahoo employees have told press a lot about the situation. Lawmakers are currently looking over the security scanning issue and will determine whether or not both government and company acted in accordance with citizen rights.
In the meantime, Yahoo is operation and running as usual, so if you do use this company as your main email provider, you can continue to do so.