Yahoo Wins Court Ruling To Show How It Fought US Surveillance

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Yahoo praised for fighting the US government over requests for its customers’ personal data

Yahoo has won a court order that will allow it to show off how it fought government demands for customer data, following the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has been at the heart of the PRISM controversy as it grants orders for collection of user data from tech companies, said the Justice Department should unseal documents from a classified 2008 case.

Yahoo-Messenger-11.0.0.2009-Released-kaaawish.com-It has been claimed that court had been operating without enough oversight, gagging technology companies thought to be part of the initiative, preventing them from talking about any orders they received.

Yahoo court tussle

Earlier this year, it emerged Yahoo fought a FISC order, taking it all the way to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

Yahoo, and others involved in PRISM such as Google and Microsoft, have strongly denied they offered “direct access” to servers and claimed they have fought for their customers’ privacy.

Yahoo believes this latest order will show just how it strongly objected to handing over user information to the US government, and hopes it will open the door to more transparency about surveillance.

The company was praised by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for its efforts.

“Yahoo went to bat for its users – not because it had to, and not because of a possible PR benefit – but because it was the right move for its users and the company,” the EFF wrote.

“It’s precisely this type of fight – a secret fight for user privacy – that should serve as the gold standard for companies, and such a fight must be commended.

“We encourage every company that has opposed a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] order or directive to move to unseal their oppositions so the public will have a better understanding of how they’ve fought for their users.”

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