Yahoo says release of secret FISA court order will prove it resisted directives

Yahoo has asked the FISA court to release its order and other documents related to a 2008 decision

Yahoo wants the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order the public release of a secret order in a 2008 surveillance dispute, as it will demonstrate that the Internet company "objected strenuously" to government directives.

The company said in a filing that disclosure of the information would show that it objected at every stage of the proceedings, but these objections were overruled and a stay denied. Yahoo like other electronic communications providers is under public pressure to provide more information about its response to U.S. government demands for user data, it said.

A number of Internet companies were charged in newspaper reports of providing real-time access to content on their servers to the U.S. National Security Agency under a surveillance program called Prism. The documents that formed the basis of these charges came from a former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. The companies have denied their participation, and asked for greater transparency in the disclosure of data on government requests for customer information.

Making the FISC's analysis available to the public in the 2008 case will provide the public with information about "how the parties and the Court vetted the Government's arguments supporting the use of directives," Yahoo's attorneys said in the filing Tuesday.

The government has not objected to Yahoo's request for release of the court's orders and parties' briefings. In a filing by the U.S. Department of Justice, it said that it was at the discretion of the court to publish the opinion, and it takes no "position on this request." The government would conduct a classification review at the court's request.

Yahoo first filed for publication of the court's order in June, but referred to itself as a "provider" and redacted its name so that the motion could be made public.

In separate motions, Microsoft and Google have asked that they be allowed by the court to disclose aggregate statistics on orders and directives that were received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related regulations.

The rejection of Yahoo's argument against data-gathering in the 2008 ruling gave the government leverage to persuade other technology companies to comply with similar demands for information, unnamed legal experts told the San Jose Mercury News.

Yahoo could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company has received between 12,000 to 13,000 requests for user data from law enforcement agencies in the U.S. between Dec. 1 and May 31 this year, Yahoo said in June.

The company did not disclose how many of the requests for customer data were under FISA, which has been at the center of a controversy after reports surfaced that the government was collecting data from a large number of users under the Act, including call metadata from telephone customers of Verizon.

"Like all companies, Yahoo! cannot lawfully break out FISA request numbers at this time because those numbers are classified; however, we strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue," Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell wrote in a blog post in June.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGoogleMicrosoftregulationsecuritylegalgovernmentlegislationinternetYahoo

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

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?