Yahoo Surveillance Orders Set To Be Declassified

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

US court will reveal details of Yahoo’s fight against a bulk surveillance order from 2007

The US government has agreed to declassify key documents surrounding a lawsuit involving Yahoo, which should reveal how it asks technology companies to become part of its surveillance operation.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court told the US government to look at declassifying documents relating to a 2008 case, when Yahoo was ordered to submit data to US intelligence agencies. The Obama administration has now agreed to do so.

Yahoo surveillance fight

Yahoo - Shutterstock - © Eric Broder Van DykeThe US Justice Department has told the court it will have completed its declassification review by 12 September, when key materials should be revealed. Further details will be released by 27 September too, according to a brief released today.

Yahoo has been fighting for more transparency surrounding surveillance orders, following the revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

It appears to have been the only company to have legally challenged a bulk surveillance order too, according to a letter sent by the FISA court judge Reggie Walton to senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee.

The letter, which goes into some detail on how FISA requests are dealt with by the court, said there had only been one instance where the court “heard arguments from a non-governmental party that sought to substantively contest a directive from the government”.

Yahoo took its fight all the way to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in 2007, only to lose in April 2008 and be drawn into the government’s personal data collection program.

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