In the face of reports of 500 million Yahoo accounts, along with the company’s reported scanning of private emails at the government’s request, some Yahoo Mail users are looking to leave the service. However, that has become more difficult to do, as the users are finding Yahoo Mail’s email forwarding function has been “temporarily disabled.”
According to several users speaking to The Associated Press, the ability to more easily leave Yahoo Mail with the email forwarding feature — which ensures old email is sent to a new account — has been removed completely.
Yahoo Mail user Jason Danner, owner of an information technology business in Auckland, New Zealand finds the timing of the move “extremely suspicious,” as it comes at a time when disgruntled users of the mail service may be looking to move on to another email provider.
Yahoo’s company help site shows the following explanation for the forwarding feature’s unavailability:
This feature is under development. While we work to improve it, we’ve temporarily disabled the ability to turn on Mail Forwarding for new forwarding addresses. If you’ve already enabled Mail Forwarding in the past, your email will continue to forward to the address you previously configured.
The feature has been “a basic concept for 15 years for just about every email provider out there,” said small business owner Brian McIntosh, who first notified the Associated Press about the issue. “All of a sudden it’s under development,” McIntosh said in a telephone interview with AP. “And only at Yahoo.”
Reuters reported last week that Yahoo had secretly built a custom bit of software that scanned all of its members’ incoming emails for specific information, to comply with requests from U.S. intelligence authorities. Other tech firms report receiving no such request.
An Apple spokesperson, responding to an inquiry by The Intercept, said: “We have never received a request of this type, and if we were to receive one, we would oppose it in court,” and referred The Intercept to a portion of a recent public letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook, which the person said, was still accurate:
Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter all separately noted that they had not conducted any similar mail searches.
Last month, Yahoo revealed hackers had gained access to 500 million customer accounts in 2014. Yahoo is currently in the process of trying to close a deal to sell its core business to Verizon in a $4.8 billion deal. The New York Post reports that in the face of the recent revelations, Verizon is said to be demanding a $1 billion discount on the purchase.