Earlier today we reported on a rather concerning story. According to former employees, Yahoo gave government agencies tools to search millions of email accounts for keywords.
The situation has developed, and Yahoo now denies any part in the allegations. Reuters originally disclosed the story, which Yahoo calls “misleading.”
“Does not exist on our systems”
A spokesperson from the company said in a statement,“we narrowly interpret every government request for user data to minimize disclosure. The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.”
This is a change from the former ambiguous statement. Previously Yahoo just mentioned that it complies with the laws of the United States. You could take this two ways: they were forced into compliance, or they didn't scan emails.
This new statement also has an equal amount of wiggle room. It only says the software doesn't currently exist on Yahoo systems. That doesn't address the past or any other ongoing schemes.
Business Insider asked the technology firm to clarify the statement, but officials declined to comment.
The source of the original accusation was three former Yahoo employees and one outsider familiar with the matter. According to the reports, Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos left the company due to a disagreement over the issue.
Stamos allegedly told subordinates that CEO Marissa Mayer went behind the back of him and the security team. Instead, regular engineers implemented the solution, which led to a security hole that could have let hackers into the system.
It's hard to tell if Yahoo is just attempting damage control, or genuinely had no part in the claims. It wouldn't be the first time former employees tried to soil a company's name, but evasiveness, combined with the detail of the accusations makes the denial hard to trust.
The only person who can reveal the whole truth is Stamos. Unfortunately, the now Facebook employee also declined to comment on the matter.
What do you think? Has Reuters been out of line, or is Yahoo just trying to protect its interests?