back to article Google says it would have a two-word answer for Feds seeking Yahoo!-style email backdoor

Since word spread that Yahoo! backdoored its own email servers for US intelligence services, we've heard from rival webmail providers denying they have put in place similar arrangements. That Yahoo! has a cosy relationship with the Feds is not surprising, especially given what we know about PRISM and Section 702 of the Foreign …

  1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    The feds would have to ask correctly

    If the NSA, FBI, CIA, et al asked Google to read the emails to have more relevant advertisements, they would be welcomed with open arms, a parade, and a night out on the town. All they would have to do is make a fake shell company and call themselves advertisers to get all the info they would ever want, and then some.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: The feds would have to ask correctly

      Not a bad plan, but that wouldn't get them the contents of emails, which I believe is the issue here.

      1. DougS Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The feds would have to ask correctly

        Well, not the contents, but if they bought AdWords for "ISIS" and "attack on NYC" they would at least know how much they're talking

  2. Simon Lynch
    FAIL

    If they actually had worked to catch criminals with that data it 'might' have been OK. I run a website where 80% of fraud is from yahoo emails. Did they ever respond or help. NO. Do they try and assist detection of crime. NO. In terms of real impact, that is much worse than snooping.

    1. wayward4now
      Holmes

      I've maintained for years that the reason Yahoo doesn't crack don on users with more than 10 fake accounts is that those fake numbers make them look good to investors. Anyone using Yahoo is plainly an idiot.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Anyone using Yahoo is plainly an idiot."

        Maybe it's not quite as simple as that. Other service providers have outsourced their email component to Yahoo. I'd hope that those still doing that must be having second thoughts by now.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          I stand by the original comment

          Anyone using Yahoo is clearly an idiot.

          The company doing the outsourcing is the idiot though, not the end user.

          Most users have no idea who actually owns and/or runs the servers their services run on, and have no desire to know either.

          That's the magic of "cloud". Also why it's often hideous for business use, but you know.

  3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    feral incontinence er incompetence

    The ferals have a problem with doing real investigations. These will require the donut eaters to get out of the local Dunkin Donuts and actually do real leg work of interviewing people, look a the crime scene, etc. They can not be bothered with doing their jobs.

  4. frank ly

    Nice coincidence and very appropriate

    "Really disappointing thing about Yahoo building wiretap capability for NSA is they are in 9th circuit where law says they don't have to..."

    The 9th circle of hell is the circle of treachery.

  5. SisterClamp
    Unhappy

    "We've never received such a request..."

    But that doesn't mean they haven't preemptively provided such facilities. As a non-US citizen, I assume that my usage of any Google service is fully monitored, recorded, analysed and data mined. It's getting harder to find an internet service that is not connected somehow to Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook or Amazon. (Just try telling an elderly relative to switch from Skype to Asterisk, for example!)

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Re: "We've never received such a request..."

      Well there's things we know about this with Google. For one we know via a silly engineering choice (at best) that one of the alphabets from one side of the Atlantic was in their systems and that means access (was, at least) guaranteed for all five eyes. We also know people aren't allowed to discuss FISA orders to basically any degree including admitting they received one so minus 12 on a trust scale of 0 to 10.

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: "We've never received such a request..."

      The weasel word is "request." The Feds don't ask, they tell.

      ...but if we did, our response would be simple: 'No way.'

      Again, using the straw man of a "request." If asked, sure, they would refuse. If ordered, though, they would obey.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google says it would have a two-word answer ...

    TLA: Can you please bend over and open your backdoor

    Google: How Wide?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google says it would have a two-word answer ...

      "Can you please bend over and open your backdoor?"

      That's a coin slot for Google - insert money, extract data.

      No question or answer required.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rival webmail providers denying

    why would I believe a single word they say, when they've been found lying in the past?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hang on...

    so yahoo claim they got the "request" and LEGALLY had to grant that access, while google, MS, facebook, working in exactly the same legal environment say:

    We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'No way.'

    "Facebook has never received a request like the one described in these news reports from any government, and if we did we would fight it."

    MS and Twitter - nosir, not us!

    So who's the naughty boy here? Yahoo says: we had to comply with the law. Google says: we wouldn't comply with the law. Facebook say: we would fight the law.

    And it's quite embarrassing that they lie about "never getting such a request", it's just silly. If NSA went to milk yahoo, it would have DEFINITELY gone to get the same AND MORE from google, facebook, MS and twitter, why wouldn't they?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: hang on...

      "So who's the naughty boy here? Yahoo says: we had to comply with the law. Google says: we wouldn't comply with the law. Facebook say: we would fight the law."

      And it's a matter of record that MS are fighting the law, at least in Europe and are making more efforts in protecting European data with their new data centre legal architecture. On the whole I'd trust MS on this - but not sufficiently to install W10.

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: hang on...

        On the whole I'd trust MS on this - but not sufficiently to install W10.

        Indeed. Two separate issues: protecting your data from the Feds, and protecting it from M$.

        Post-Snowden, we at least have a pretty good idea of what the Feds want and why they want it. M$, however, is much more opaque about how they will use your data against you.

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: hang on...

      Yahoo! isn't saying that they had to comply - just that by complying, they broke no laws.

      Kind of like when the school-yard bully demands another kid's lunch money, but the kid counter-offers the names and schedules of all of their friends, and how much money each has on him. The kid hasn't broken any rules/laws, but is still a pathetic rat.

      Yahoo is a pathetic rat, and the other ones are saying that the bully hasn't approached them yet. Google is saying they'd take the beating, and the others are saying that they'd get a teacher.

  9. hypernovasoftware

    People still Yahoo!? I haven't used Yahoo! since 1999. They are irrelevant.

  10. Tempest 3K

    I hope they like scanning junk mail - that's the only use my old Yahoo account has!

  11. stevor

    I figure that google and FaceBook are branches of the CIA, so no "sharing" is necessary!

  12. King Jack
    Facepalm

    Please will someone explain what the use is for looking for certain words or phrases in an email?

    If I were up to no good and decided to use email to communicate my wrong doings, I would use code words or numbers which have no meaning in themselves. Any one reading them would get news of a picnic or a day out to a museum with my Gran. I would never name my target or give out any real times. Any 'terrorist' would do the same so none of this is justified unless you are an idiot and think you'll find gold at the end of the rainbow.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      It allows them to identify those who they can best entrap into appearing to be hardcore terrorists. Those appear to be big victories and convinces the gullible that the War on Terror is succeeding.

      It also catches school kids and those who aren't bright enough to not say "let's go chop of some heads", "I think ISIS make some good points".

      They aren't real terrorists but the authorities don't care. If they can be convicted that's another increment of the 'success against terrorism' measure and allows them to pretend to the public that they are securing victories over terrorism. It justifies what they are doing, ensures funding continues, gives pretext to extending the spying.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      If you're up to no good, you're probably best off not using email at all, especially web mail, especially webmail from a US company that is happy to do whatever the government asks.

      Oh shit, I've just materially aided terrorists by giving them tech advice haven't I? Hmm, that helicoptor seems awfully low....

      <carrier lost>

  13. cduance

    So the 500 million lost user account details

    Was the hack, now the biggest in history executed through one of these back doors???? That would fully put the ball in companies courts saying 'we told you so' and perhaps get agencies to back off

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      Mushroom

      Re: So the 500 million lost user account details

      That would fully put the ball in companies courts saying 'we told you so' and perhaps get agencies to back off

      I doubt it. The US government doesn't give two shits about whether the compromise any private entity, so long as they get their data feed to control the masses. Fuck them all.

  14. x 7

    I always wondered how Yahoo's scam-mail filters were so good compared with the rest. Now we know: the NSA were doing the spam filtering for them. With the volume of spam that Yahoo gets, NSA would have to filter it to get rid of the crap just to be able to begin to scan the "real" mails.

    Maybe that was the trade-off: the NSA got total access, in exchange for free spam filtering

  15. TitterYeNot

    "How to terminate your Yahoo! account."

    Given the nature of Yahoo's behaviour being discussed here, and the involvement of US TLA's, shouldn't that be

    "How to terminate your Yahoo! account with extreme prejudice..."

  16. Sir Alien

    Legal action Europe?

    Does this not mean now that any provider in Europe that were using yahoo as a backend email provider (e.g BT) can be sued for European data protection breaches? Bring out the lawyers?

    Just saying...

  17. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    Two words...

    "We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'No way.'"

    I have a two word response to that statement: "Bull sh*t"

  18. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
    Mushroom

    I just remembered I had an old Yahoo account for freecycle and one or two groups. No personal details in it (who signs up with their real name/address/dob anyway), but it felt good to delete it.

  19. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    If Verizon pulls out, the NSA could simply buy Yahoo! and run it themselves. I'd say it's well within their budget and would save everyone a lot of bother.

  20. Frank N. Stein

    Really??

    Since Yahoo is now owned by Verizon, I will never be a Verizon customer.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Really??

      Since Yahoo is now owned by Verizon, I will never be a Verizon customer.

      Which will accomplish what, exactly?

      All of the US communication companies (cellular, internet, and landline) already hand over all of their metadata to NSA anyway, and they have for years.

      Given that, one could make a case that being acquired by a telco makes Yahoo users more vulnerable to surveillance, not the other way around.

  21. g33k3ss
    Mushroom

    That wasn't the two word response I expected.

    I expected something a little more along the lines of "Eff You".

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semantics

    Google might say "no way" to the feds. But Alphabet may well say "sure thing"

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