Europe: we need more details from Yahoo about scanning emails for US intelligence


The European Union is not happy with the explanation Yahoo has given for scanning user emails for US intelligence. There is concern about how such surveillance could impact upon not only privacy, but also business between the EU and US, and trust has to be built from scratch as Donald Trump becomes president.

Yahoo -- which is on the verge of being sold to Verizon -- is not signed up to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement that blocks the US from spying on European data. As such, the company has been acting on a previously-secret court order, gathering data for the NSA and FBI. Speaking with Reuters, the EU Justice Commissioner said she wants more information about what was gathered and why.

In her Reuters interview, Vera Jourova said that she is unhappy with the explanation Yahoo has given so far: "I am not satisfied because to my taste the answer came relatively late and relatively general, and I will make clear at the first possible opportunity to the American side that this is not how we understand good, quick and full exchange of information".

Recognizing that scanning for national security purposes will somewhat limit what Yahoo is able to say in public -- and even in private -- Jourova still wants more detail.

What we do know is that Yahoo has acted on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order to scan emails looking for information related to terrorism. This is in spite of the fact that the US agreed to avoid "mass, indiscriminate surveillance" in order to bash out a Privacy Shield deal.

Although the arrival of Trump is not seen as being a problem by Jourava, she says:

I would expect that Trump's administration would understand what is good and what is bad for business. This is good for business. We need to see that we can still trust.

This trust will be tested when the Privacy Shield agreement receives its first annual review later this year under Trump.

Photo credit: g0d4ather / Shutterstock

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