The Political Insider broke a story yesterday revealing that internet giant Yahoo had secretly collaborated with the NSA (National Security Agency) to allow Obama administration officials to illegally rifle through the emails of ordinary American citizens.

Which is odd, considering the always-honest President Obama told the world in 2013 that the NSA was not, in fact, “rifling through the emails” of American citizens.

“This is not a situation in which we are rifling through the ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anybody else,” Obama said in discussing internet privacy. “This is not a situation where we simply go into the internet and start searching any way that we want.”

According to a Reuters report however, Yahoo built software specifically at the request of the federal government, allowing officials to scan incoming emails for specific information – a set of characters, a key phrase, or certain attachments.

In other words, the Obama administration was in fact ‘rifling through the emails of American citizens’ by going ‘into the internet and searching any way that (they) want.’

Via the Guardian:

Barack Obama has sought to address European concerns over internet privacy in the wake of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, insisting US authorities are not “rifling through the emails” of ordinary people and he is confident the US intelligence services have “struck the appropriate balance” between security and civil rights.

“I was a critic of the previous administration for those occasions in which I felt they had violated our values and I came in [to office] with a healthy scepticism about how our various programmes were structured,” Obama told the press conference in Berlin’s chancellery. But, he added, having examined how the US intelligence services were operating: “I’m confident that at this point we have struck the appropriate balance”.

As our colleague Soopermexican reported, “While we might expect that the government needs to keep tabs on emails that might be from people who are threats to our security, there’s so much opportunity for abuse here it’s mind-boggling.”

Comment: How do you feel about the Obama administration rifling through private emails of ordinary American citizens – Invasion of privacy or necessary security measure? Share your thoughts below.