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Activist Group Asking Verizon to Better Protect Yahoo Users

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Civil liberties group Access Now is calling on telecommunications giant Verizon to better protect the digital rights of Yahoo users.

Verizon, which has stated its intention of acquiring Yahoo, needs to step up now that it is aware the tech titan had, allegedly, been scanning customer e-mails last year at the U.S. government’s behest, Access Now says in a letter to the company.

The letter comes a little more than a week after a Reuters article indicated Yahoo, after receiving a top-secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, had built a software program to scan incoming e-mails for a specific set of characters linked to a terror group backed by a foreign government.

Access Now is urging Verizon to ensure Yahoo does more to protect user data and keep its commitment to surveillance reform.

“As you engage in due diligence around the acquisition, we urge you to probe the privacy and security risks and safeguards needed to protect Yahoo and Verizon users,” the letter Access Now sent to Verizon reads.

“Verizon has developed as a company with a primarily United States user base. By contrast, Yahoo serves users around the world. For its part, Verizon has defended its ‘long history of standing up for the privacy rights’ of its customers, and we expect it to now take steps to uphold that value. For example, Verizon has released regular transparency reports on government request for user data and has issued a “Human Rights Statement” noting its respect for human rights principles. But it must do more in preparation for its acquisition of a global Internet platform.”

Verizon is reportedly none to happy with Yahoo since learning about the e-mail scanning program, not to mention the massive security breach targeting more than 500 million Yahoo account holders.

It has been reported the company has asked for a $1-billion discount off its upcoming $4.83-billion deal to purchase Yahoo’s Internet business since news of the two scandals broke.

Whether Verizon will implement any of Access Now’s suggestions is not yet known.

Verizon had this to say in a statement e-mailed to Reuters: “We have an ongoing and constructive engagement with Access Now and will review their recommendations and consider them carefully.”

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Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.