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Feds Threatened to Fine Yahoo 50K Daily for Not Complying with NSA’s PRISM

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A court battle that Yahoo launched to resist the NSA’s PRISM spy program came to an end in 2008 after the Feds threatened the internet giant with a massive 50,000 a day fine if it didn’t comply.

The court ruled that Yahoo’s arguments for resisting had no merit.

The details of the battle became public today after 1,500 pages worth of documents were unsealed revealing new information about the aggressive battle the Feds fought to force the company to bow to its demands.

>The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. Government’s surveillance efforts,” Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell wrote in a post published after the unsealing. “At one point, the U.S. Government threatened the imposition of 50,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply.

The American Civil Liberties Union praised Yahoo for pushing back on the government’s unreasonable surveillance.

>Yahoo should be lauded for standing up to sweeping government demands for its customers’ private data,” Patrick Toomey, staff attorney with the ACLU said in a statement.”But today’s [document] release only underscores the need for basic structural reforms to bring transparency to the NSA’s surveillance activities.

The governments request for data initially came under the guise of the “Protect America Act”, legislation which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This act allows the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to authorize “the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States” for periods of up to one year, if the acquisition met five criteria.

“Under the law, the government has to ensure that reasonable procedures are in place to ensure that the targeted person is reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. and that a significant purpose of the collection is to obtain foreign intelligence. In its request to Yahoo, the government apparently proposed additional measures it planned to use to ensure that its data collection was reasonable.”

“Yahoo applied to appeal the decision and requested a stay in the data collection pending the appeal. But the FISA Court refused the stay, and beginning in March 2008, Yahoo was forced to comply with the request for data in the meantime “under threat of civil contempt.””

“To support their ruling, the judges wrote that the government “assures us that it does not maintain a database of incidentally collected information from non-targeted United States persons, and there is no evidence to the contrary.””


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“Feds Threatened to Fine Yahoo 50K Daily for Not Complying with NSA’s PRISM”