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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yahoo Was Forced to Join Prism by the Secret Court

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.
SAN FRANCISCO — In a secret court in Washington, Yahoo’s top lawyers made their case. The government had sought help in spying on certain foreign users, without a warrant, and Yahoo had refused, saying the broad requests were unconstitutional.
The judges disagreed. That left Yahoo two choices: Hand over the data or break the law.
So Yahoo became part of the National Security Agency’s secret Internet surveillance program, Prism, according to leaked N.S.A. documents, as did seven other Internet companies.
Like almost all the actions of the secret court, which operates under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the details of its disagreement with Yahoo were never made public beyond a heavily redacted court order, one of the few public documents ever to emerge from the court. The name of the company had not been revealed until now. Yahoo’s involvement was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the proceedings. Yahoo declined to comment.
8 senators wants to expose the secret court
In light of the public outrage about PRISM, eight senators have come up with a way to make public the secret courts that administer the program, which was reauthorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) less than two years ago.
Under the guise of covertly gathering intelligence on the U.S.’s enemies, FISA courts operate and approve surveillance requests in secret. They’ve existed since FISA was passed into law in 1978, and most recently were renewed for five more years at the end of 2012.
In light of PRISM, which was only revealed Thursday due to a press leak, those senators have created a bill to declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions.

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