Reps raise concerns over Yahoo email search in letter

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Reps. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, and Ted Lieu, D-California, sent a bipartisan letter Friday urging Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to brief lawmakers on the issues raised by reports that Yahoo searched its users’ incoming emails at the request of the federal government.

In addition to Amash and Lieu, the letter was signed by Michigan’s U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and 44 others.

Reuters reported this month that Yahoo secretly agreed to search its users’ incoming emails for a specific, yet unknown word or phrase, for either the National Security Agency or the FBI. It’s unclear what technical mechanism or legal authority was used in the searches.

“There is significant confusion regarding the existence and nature of the program described by these reports and the legal questions implicated by the accuracy of specific details,” the lawmakers wrote.

“As legislators, it is our responsibility to have accurate information about the intelligence activities conducted by the federal government. Accordingly, we request information and a briefing as soon as possible for all members of Congress to resolve the issues raised by these reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

“Members of Congress have a responsibility to oversee surveillance practices and ensure that all activities comply with the Constitution and federal law,” Amash said in a statement. “Our No. 1 job is protecting the rights of the people.”

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