US government threatened to fine Yahoo $250K per day for not handing over user dataBy Shawn Knight 17 comments
Yahoo has been one of the more transparent tech companies as it relates to privacy ever since whistleblower Edward Snowden stunned the world with his NSA surveillance revelations. In an effort to prove that they didn't just go along with whatever the US government demanded of it, the Internet pioneer is working to release more than 1,500 pages of once-secret papers from their 2007-2008 challenge to the expansion of US surveillance laws.
A Tumblr post by General Counsel Ron Bell claims the US government amended a key law in 2007 to demand user information from online services. Yahoo refused to comply with what they viewed as unconstitutional and overboard surveillance, instead challenging the government's authority.
Said challenge, as well as a later appeal, was unsuccessful. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Yahoo to hand over the user data they had originally requested. At one point during the proceedings, the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if they refused to comply.
Documents pertaining to the lawsuit remained classified until just last year and now that the FISC-R has agreed to unseal the documents at Yahoo's request, the company is working to make them available to anyone interested in having a look.
Even still, however, Yahoo said some of the documents remain sealed and classified, unknown even to their legal team. Either way, Yahoo considers it an important win for transparency and they hope the records promote informed discussion about the relationship between privacy, due process and intelligence gathering.