The Cambridge Cyber Summit

Google and Microsoft say email services are spy-free following Yahoo report

Attendees working on Apple Inc. laptop computers participate in the Yahoo! Inc. Mobile Developer Conference Hackathon in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft and Google want to make it clear that their email services, Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail, are safe from U.S. government spies.

The two companies issued the following statements to CNBC, following a Reuters report revealing that Internet giant Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence officials, according to reporter Joseph Menn's sources.

"We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo." — a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed response to CNBC.

A spokesperson from Alphabet's Google's issued this statement to CNBC: "We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'no way'."

According to Reuters, citing two former employees and a third person with knowledge of the events, Yahoo scanned hundreds of millions of email accounts at the bidding of the National Security Agency or FBI, in order to comply with a classified U.S. government directive.

The company also reportedly built a software custom tool to monitor all of its users incoming emails for certain information specified by U.S. intelligence agents, according to Reuters sources.

Yahoo, which is in the middle of a sale to Verizon, has said it did nothing wrong — the company issued this statement to CNBC: "Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States."

Verizon declined to comment to CNBC.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the order the U.S. government reportedly issued Yahoo "unprecedented and unconstitutional," and said it was disappointed with Yahoo's compliance.

The conference is sponsored by CNBC, MIT and The Aspen Institute.

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