Yahoo says it faced $250,000 daily fines for defying US surveillance requests

Yahoo's disclosure comes amid newly unsealed court documents

The U.S. government once threatened to fine Yahoo US$250,000 a day if it failed to assist with its surveillance efforts, Yahoo said Thursday.

Yahoo said it was threatened with the fines after it challenged surveillance powers granted to the U.S. government under the Protect America Act of 2007. The information has come to light now because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees how those laws are implemented, agreed to unseal documents in the case.

Yahoo said it was "extremely rare" for the court to make such records public. It highlighted some of their contents in a blog post and said it would soon post the 1,500 pages of unsealed documents online.

"We consider this an important win for transparency," Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell said in a blog post.

Yahoo said it challenged the surveillance request on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and overly broad. But it failed in its bid and was ordered by the court to hand over data about its users.

The government was looking to collect "foreign intelligence information" about "targets reasonably believed to be located outside the United States," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in its own blog post. The court said it was acceptable for the surveillance to include U.S. citizens if they were outside the country.

Documents leaked last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden detailed sophisticated surveillance methods used by the U.S. government to gather data held by online companies including Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. One of the programs, dubbed PRISM, claimed the NSA was tapping into companies' servers, according to those documents.

The high-tech firms have sought to emphasize their efforts to fight the government data requests and reject any suggestion that they participated willingly in the information gathering.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesYahoosecuritygovernmentinternetsearch enginesprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?