The U.S. federal government confronted Yahoo and threatened to fine $250,000 each day in 2008 if it didn’t abide by an extensive demand to hand over user communications. A demand the corporation considered unconstitutional. According to court papers unsealed Thursday that bring light to how federal authorities pushed American tech organizations to join in the National Security Agency’s debatable PRISM program.
The files, approximately 1,500 pages, summarize a secret and consequently failed legal battle by Yahoo to stand up to the government’s demands.
The company’s loss expected Yahoo to be one of the first to start supplying details to PRISM, a plan that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo as well as other U.S.based technology companies.
The ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review had been a key moment within the progression of PRISM, helping the government persuade other firms that unparalleled data demands have been tested within the courts and found constitutionally sound. Ultimately, most significant U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied.
Microsoft joined earlier, prior to the ruling, NSA documents have indicated.
Yahoo publicly addressed the choice within a Tumblr post Thursday evening. “The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. Government’s surveillance efforts,” Ron Bell, the company’s general aide, published in the post.
Stewart Baker, a former NSA agent during the Bush administration said it’s common for courts to acquire compliance with rulings while appeals continue before higher courts.
“The public can’t understand what a law means if it doesn’t know how the courts are interpreting that law,” explained Patrick Toomey, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.