Yahoo gave U.S. intel agencies access to email accounts

This decision was the apparently the reason chief information officer, Alex Stamos left the firm past year.

Three former Yahoo employees and a fourth person "appraised of the events" allegedly told Reuters the beleaguered company a year ago "secretly created a software programme to search all [Yahoo Mail] customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by the U.S. intelligence officials".

Previously, there has been similar cases of USA agencies scanning already stored messages or just a small number of emails in real time.

Scanned ... US intelligence officials looked through Yahoo users" emails with a special snooping tool designed by the company "Delete it' ... The decision to accept the demand which was carried out by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer led to the departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos who is now at Facebook.

U.S. phone and internet companies are known to have had handed over bulk customer data to intelligence agencies. The hidden search was done for a specific but unknown word or phrase. "It would be really hard for a provider to do that". It has emerged that the company created a custom tool to search customers' emails for specific terms as directed by the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigation. ' Its rivals, meanwhile, have been falling over themselves to take advantage of the PR opportunity with Apple, Google, and Microsoft all issuing statements that they would refuse similar requests for real-time information taps on their email infrastructures.

Google, whose Gmail is the world's largest email service, said it had not received a similar spying request from the request from the USA government.

NEW YORK (AP) — Yahoo responded again Wednesday to a report that it scanned incoming email to hundreds of millions of accounts for the us government. Facebook said it would "fight" such a request should it ever receive one.

Sam Biddle, a tech writer, said it was now time for Yahoo users to scrap their accounts.

The sources said the program was discovered by Yahoo's security team in May 2015, within weeks of its installation. Further, it is not known "what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any".

As tech companies become better at encrypting data, they are likely to face more such requests from spy agencies. He told them that a programming flaw could have allowed hackers to access stored emails.

But it's not clear what information the United States authorities were looking for, nor what data Yahoo provided.

Yahoo made unwanted headlines recently when it was revealed that hackers stole the details of about 500 million of its users in the largest cyber security breach in history.

Yahoo is now in the process of being brought by Verizon Communications for £3.8 billion.