Yahoo Fought NSA Surveillance in 2008 – Faced $250,000 per Day Fine

Posted by at 4:18 pm on September 12, 2014

YahooReports have surfaced that search engine Yahoo (and possibly others) were threatened by the US government to comply with PRISM surveillance requirements, or face a $250,000 per day fine in 2008. While Yahoo fought the demand through the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, it ultimately lost and complied with the order, which paved the way towards mass surveillance of Internet users.

Over 1,500 pages of documents were unsealed, and discovered by the Washington Post. A ruling was disclosed in 2009, but details were completely obfuscated by redaction, that specific info on the ruling was impossible to discern. The less redacted series of documents from the court were unsealed Thursday by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has made an official statement regarding the court documents, confirming that Yahoo resisted the government’s demands initially, but ceded on April 25, 2008 after the FISC “held that the directives were lawful and ordered Yahoo! to comply.”

The FISC ruled that “the U.S. Government has sufficient procedures in place to ensure that the Fourth Amendment rights of targeted US persons are adequately protected and that the acquisition of foreign intelligence to be obtained through the directives issued to Yahoo!, as to these individuals, is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” Additionally, it ruled that “any incidental acquisition of the communications of non-targeted persons located in the United States and of non-targeted U.S. persons, wherever they may be located, is also reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Yahoo is trumpeting its resistance in the first part of the century in a post as well. It is still frustrated by the process somewhat, however, and writes that “portions of the documents remain sealed and classified to this day, unknown even to our team. The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. Government’s surveillance efforts.”

The search engine claims in the post that “Users come first at Yahoo. We treat public safety with the utmost seriousness, but we are also committed to protecting users’ data. We will continue to contest requests and laws that we consider unlawful, unclear, or overbroad.”

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