Yahoo, Apple & US Intelligence -- Coming along Quietly v Kicking & Screaming

Yahoo is back in the press -- and in hot water.

 

Apparently, Yahoo voluntarily complied with an order from U.S. intelligence officials to write code that would screen all incoming Yahoo Mail messages and to hand flagged messages over to these officials.

 

Yahoo's cooperation contrasts with Apple's earlier refusal to accede to a U.S. Government order to devise code to crack an Apple iphone linked to a terrorist attack in San Bernadino.  

 

Businesses must comply with the law.  But, in both of the above cases, a good-faith argument apparently existed that the order went beyond the officials' lawful authority.  Apple's refusal gained it "street cred" in privacy circles, but then backfired when officials found an outside tech firm that successfully hacked the iPhone.  The hack put the smartphone world on notice that iPhone security was not impregnable..

 

Yahoo's decision to comply may have been prompted by the belief it would ultimately lose any legal challenge.  But, when it comes to user privacy, tech companies' reputations may require them to be dragged kicking & screaming rather than to go quietly.  As Apple's case shows, though, this does not guarantee a happy ending.

 

 

 

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