October 30, 2016

524 words 3 mins read

I deleted my Yahoo account, you should too

For those who missed it, recently it was discovered that Yahoo willingly granted the FBI and/or NSA fully access to all of Yahoo’s customers’ emails. This means that if you have an @yahoo.com email address every email you’ve ever sent or received is in the hands of American Government. More problematically there was no warrant or NSL involved (that we know of) that required access to EVERY email — Yahoo gave up that voluntarily. Before you think this isn’t a big deal or maybe it’s just a “one time thing”… don’t forget that Yahoo willingly helped the Chinese governed find and arrest pro-Democratic “dissidents”.

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I don’t consider myself a super paranoid person but if you believe that the government knowing everything about you is “no big deal” because you “have nothing to hide” I refer you to the writings of George Orwell’s book “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. In the book (in case you haven’t read it) the Government rewrites history regularly and persecutes people for Thoughtcrimes. Maybe we don’t live in that world today, but what if the US Government decides tomorrow that something which is perfectly legal today, say speaking poorly of our president (or presidential nominees), is treason. If you’ve ever said anything bad about POTUS via Yahoo email (even if it was just a friend sending you a bad joke), you’ll instantly be arrested. They won’t need to have reasonable cause and get a warrant, Yahoo already gave them everything they need.

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If you’re like me, you probably long ago moved on from your Yahoo email — but left it active. Since you can forward your email to your new preferred host (say Gmail), why not leave it active? Well, beyond the fact that anything sent to Yahoo is compromised by what we just talked about above…Yahoo silently turned off email forwarding. As I don’t get that many emails via Yahoo, I had no idea this happened — until it came out in the news. So many of my emails were lost. After it blew up in the news, Yahoo turned the feature back on claiming some BS excuse that it was for “maintenance”. So not only won’t they tell you that they did it, they lie when the feature returns.

So what should you do? Delete your Yahoo account right now. The short version is: Log in to your Yahoo mail account, go to the Account Termination page and follow the few steps on the page. It should take you no more than 5 minutes.

It’s been more than a month since this major revelation has come out and Yahoo still has not adequately explained itself. The EFF has posted a lengthy request for details that has, as of today, gone unanswered. The US Government has legal rights to request help of email providers like Yahoo (and Google and Microsoft) for specific emails or users, but there is never a need to give the government full access. Doing so just endangers the rights and freedoms of every user on the system. Delete your account now and use literally anything else — even Microsoft’s Outlook.com is a better service (though I’d recommend Gmail).