Yahoo vows to encrypt user data


Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - Page 15

Yahoo is expanding its efforts to protect its users’ online activities from prying eyes by encrypting all the communications and other information flowing into the Internet company’s data centers around the world.

The commitment announced on Monday by Yahoo Inc chief executive officer Marissa Mayer follows a recent Washington Post report that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been hacking into the communications lines of the data centers run by Yahoo and Google Inc to intercept information about what people do and say online.

Yahoo had previously promised to encrypt its e-mail service by early January next year. Now, the Sunnyvale, California company plans to have all data encrypted by the end of March to make it more difficult for unauthorized parties to decipher the information.

Google began to encrypt its Gmail service in 2010 and has since introduced the security measure on many other services.

The Mountain View, California company has promised to encrypt the links to its data centers, too. A Google engineer said that task had been completed in a post on his Google Plus account earlier this month, but the company has not yet confirmed all the encryption work is done.

Other documents leaked to various media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this year have revealed that Yahoo, Google and several other prominent technology companies, including Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Apple Inc, have been feeding the US government some information about their international users under a court-monitored program called PRISM.

The companies maintain they have only surrendered data about a very small number of users, and have only cooperated when legally required.