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Yahoo Was Reportedly Forced to Join PRISM By a Secret Court

By on June 17, 2013

by Drew Guarini

Yahoo fought PRISM, and PRISM won.

Court records obtained by The New York Times show that Yahoo had fought back against the National Security Agency’s broad requests for user data in 2008. The company, which provides email service to hundreds of millions of people, argued that the order violated Yahoo account holders’ constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The secret court didn’t buy Yahoo’s argument, and compelled the company to give the NSA digitally stored email and photos at its beck and call.

Since the bombshell revelation of NSA’s so-called PRISM program last week, the public has learned more about how the nine participating Internet companies let the government collect broad swaths of personal information from Internet users for national security purposes. The secret 2008 decision seemed to put a dark cloud over Silicon Valley: cooperate with the government to fight terrorism abroad, or you’ll find yourself in court.

One firm that more successfully resisted the NSA’s advances was Twitter. That’s partially because the young microblogging service has less data on users compared to Google or Facebook, according to The Verge, so it’s less desirable to government snoops. But that hasn’t stopped the company and its top lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, from fighting the government in court when it has asked for people’s private information.

Though this case was previously known through a heavily redacted court order, it wasn’t until now that we knew Yahoo was the company behind the unsuccessful NSA challenge that would leave many companies less willing to battle the NSA on other surveillance requests. In the decision, the court had told Yahoo that their worries were “overblown.”

Yahoo, like Google and Facebook, have denied involvement in PRISM.

“Yahoo! has not joined any program in which we volunteer to share user data with the U.S. government,” Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell wrote in a Tumblr post Saturday. “We do not voluntarily disclose user information. The only disclosures that occur are in response to specific demands.”

Moving past outright denial of participation, companies such as Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are now pressing the government for permission to publish more information about the number of secret requests it receives for customers’ data.

Image Reference

Yahoo/2001

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2 Comments

  1. Frankie Diaz

    June 17, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    To ask permission is to seek denial. What would happen if the companies chose to defend their clients? Dismemberment by the State? At least THEN the “sheeple” would have to choose. I, for one, would refuse to acknowledge any authority other than my contracted agreement with clients.

  2. Realist

    August 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    When Yahoo says… “Yahoo! has not joined any program in which we volunteer to share user data with the U.S. government,” Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell wrote in a Tumblr post Saturday. “We do not voluntarily disclose user information. The only disclosures that occur are in response to specific demands.”…

    What Yahoo really means and they’re not disclosing is that the ‘request for access’ itsself (The continuous collection of any and all data) was determined by the nsa to be a ‘specific demand’.

    You’re being ‘diverted’ from the truth. If you think the NSA can’t get any information of any kind from any electronic source without even having to ask, by ‘listening in to’ and ‘decoding satallite signals’, ‘tapping into copper and fiberoptic lines’ in a ‘secret or remote location’ and ‘hacking into the communications industry’s control and command computers directly’, ‘without notice’, then… Sleep Tight, don’t let the nsa’s ‘bugs’ bite.

    I’m just saying… Nanobots and all… you know the kind.

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