Business

Does Yahoo have a price list for spying on criminal suspects?

Yahoo apparently has a detailed price list for what some are calling “spying services” that it provides to law enforcement agencies.

Wired’s Threat Level security blog
has reported that Yahoo blocked a Freedom of Information Act request from an Indiana University graduate student, Christopher Soghoian, asking law enforcement agencies to release the price list. But in the meantime, the whistleblower site Cryptome released a copy of the 17-page guide.

The guide talks about Yahoo’s data retention policies and surveillance services, with pricing for the services. Yahoo has issued a take-down notice to Cryptome, apparently seeking to bury the embarrassing disclosure. Cryptome also published lawful data-interception guides from Cox Communications, SBC, Cingular, Nextel, GTE, and other service providers. Yahoo says the site has revealed its trade secrets and disclosure of its services would help criminals evade surveillance.

In the guide, Yahoo says that it doesn’t keep copies of emails for Yahoo Mail, unless a customer sets up their own account to store those emails. It can’t search for or produce deleted emails once they are removed from a user’s trashcan. Yahoo keeps the Internet protocol addresses that users log in from for one year, but it keeps the logs of IP addresses used to register new accounts all the way back to 1999. Chats are archived if a user designates them as such.

The fees that Yahoo charges are referred to as “cost remimbursement charges.” As an example, Yahoo charges law enforcement agencies $20 for the first “basic subscriber” record requested and $10 for each one thereafter. Yahoo charges government agencies about $30 to $40 for the contents of a subscriber’s account, and $40 to $80 for the contents of a Yahoo group. It seems clear that Yahoo only allows valid law enforcement agencies to submit requests.

[photo credit: Flickr, Anonymous9000]


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