News broke this week of some pretty shady dealings from Yahoo. Some former employees have released the news that the company was spying on its own customers’ email accounts at the US government’s request, intent on snooping around for evidence of illegal activity through keywords and phrases. While the internet is still reeling from the announcement–and Yahoo is covering its tracks with statements about how they’re just law abiding citizens like the rest of us–other tech companies have lined up to publicly state that they refused to cooperate with the government’s demand…and that their customers’ email accounts were not compromised.
Compromised is an interesting word here. After all, Yahoo has also had to announce that back in 2014 nearly half a billion users’ email accounts were “compromised,” allegedly the work of “state-sponsored operatives.” (It would appear as though they forgot to mention which state this was.)
So far, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and a few other big names in tech have openly stated that they refuse all requests to cooperate with classified government mandates to spy on their users and turn the information over to the powers that be. Yahoo apparently suffered a small walkout among some executives over the decision to roll over and cooperate without so much as a delay in order to consult the legality.
While their customers will certainly appreciate their privacy protections, the other tech companies may come out ahead for yet another reason: the US may not have firmly placed laws surrounding the gray area of technology privacy in this type of case, but other countries certainly do. Ideally, the affected citizens can sit back and watch as Yahoo faces the lawsuits on behalf of foreigners whose emails were spied upon in clear violation of their countries’ laws.