Report of millons of emails secretly scanned prompts cyber privacy questions

Posted at 3:38 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 17:38:28-04

New concerns about cyber privacy after a report says Yahoo allowed the government to scan user emails. A government source is telling the New York Times the U.S. Justice Department reportedly ordered Yahoo to search incoming emails for a digital signature of a terrorist organization. They say Yahoo was forbidden from disclosing the order.


According to a report from Reuters, Yahoo complied with a classified U.S. Government demand, and scanned hundreds of millions of yahoo mail accounts last year. The report says the company even built a custom software program to do it, in a move experts say is unprecedented. Yahoo called the report "misleading," saying no such program exists.


Still for Craig Baute, it's unsettling. He manages the co-working space he owns, which includes sending a lot of emails.


The NOW's Kumasi Aaron asked Baute, "How important is email for you?" Boute replied, "Email is critical. It's the backbone of my communication."


Baute says 90 percent of his communication is done through email. That's why even though he doesn't use Yahoo, he was alarmed to read reports that the company allowed the government to scan it's users incoming emails.


"I'd be personally offended," Baute says. "Honestly I just don't know where to turn to like if email was compromised I don't know where to go."


The NOW asked Steve Fox with Security Pursuit about how you can protect the sensitive information you send online. He says one thing you can do now is get your email messages encrypted.


"If they get intercepted they are not in plain text they can't be immediately read or deciphered," Fox says. "You would have to come up with a password or a correction key in order to decrypt the secured message."


It's a move Baute is already making.


"I will check out my privacy settings," Baute says. "And I will make sure that I am end to end encrypted through my email."


Microsoft and Google, which operate Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail have both issued statements saying their email services are safe from U.S. government spies.