A US judge has granted a motion forcing Yahoo to explain how exactly it is able to recover emails that have been deleted from a user's inbox. The motion has been granted as part of a convicted UK drug trafficker Russell Knaggs’ appeal to try to get evidence against him thrown out of court by arguing that the information was illegally obtained by Yahoo.
Knaggs, convicted in 2012 and jailed for 20 years, is now trying to get his conviction overturned by taking Yahoo to court in the US, claiming that the email provider was using an NSA-style real-time interception technology to bulk collect data, which contravenes privacy laws in the UK.
Yahoo is ordered to present a witness and provide documents on how the email retention system works, as well as a copy of the software's source code and instruction manuals used by email provider’s staff on how to retrieve the emails.
Yahoo said that it is able to recover the emails via its "auto-save" feature, which creates snapshots of an email account preserving its contents at a certain date, and that it provided law enforcement from the Yahoo account used by Knagg and his accomplice.
Yahoo! retains a user's incoming mail as long as the user chooses to store such messages in their mail folders and the user's email account remains active. Yahoo! retains a user's sent mail only if the user sets their email account options to save sent mail and has not subsequently deleted specific messages. Once the trash folder has been emptied, which usually occurs automatically within 24 hours of when the user has placed messages in the trash folder, Yahoo! will be unable to search for and produce deleted emails. Yahoo! may set an email account to inactive status and delete all account contents after at least four (4) months of inactivity.
Whatsoever the issue turns out to be, if the emails are retrieved by Yahoo ; then there is simply no guarantee of online service from the service. Yahoo has until the end of August to respond.