Feeds

Yahoo!: We! tried! to! protect! your! info! ... secret! court! case! will! prove! it!

If unsealed, 2008 legal docs could answer lots of questions

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Yahoo! has launched a fresh bid to reveal the top secret workings of the US surveillance state and prove it did not voluntarily hand over its customer's data to NSA spooks.

The Purple Palace wants to lift a seal on a 2008 court case in which the firm "strenuously objected" to the National Security Agency's requests for its customers' info. Yahoo! was overruled and the US government was subsequently given powers to harvest information from major internet firms.

Yahoo! outlined its request in a filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, the Mercury News reports.

Until last month, when news broke about the NSA's top-secret PRISM surveillance programme, Yahoo! was not even allowed to say it was a party in the court case, which was kept classified under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

If details of the court case are released, it would shed light on the workings of the NSA and the methods they use to spy on foreign nationals as well as American citizens.

"Release of this Court's decision and the parties' briefing is necessary to inform the growing public debate about how this Court considers and examines the Government's use of directives," Yahoo! attorneys Marc Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer wrote in a filing to the FISA court. "Courts have long recognized the public has a right to access court records."

Yahoo! has already released details of exactly how many times spooks made data requests, but it is not allowed to say exactly how many were made under secret FISA legislation, which allows spooks to ask for personal data.

Its most recent court filing is the most explicit assault any internet firm has made on the secrecy surrounding the FISA courts, according to Alex Abdo, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.

He told Mercury News: "This is the first time we've seen one of these companies making this broad an argument in favor of transparency in the FISA court."

The existence of the NSA's PRISM surveillance system was first revealed by IT boffin-turned-deepthroat Edward Snowden, who is still on the run from US authorities. He revealed spies could snoop on users of most of the world's common communications services through metadata from online communications and mobile phone call records.

The public still does not know the full details of NSA spying, something all of the big internet firms want to change. Facebook, Microsoft and Google all want to reassure customers around the world that they didn't simply allows spooks to have unfettered access to their servers, but only responded to specific requests.

"Revealing what went on in the court is critical to having a democracy," Jennifer Stisa Granick, from Stanford University law school's Centre for Internet and Society, told the paper. "If Yahoo is successful in revealing what the court did and why, then we will know more about the laws our government is purportedly operating under, which sadly we don't currently know." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines
DCMS seeks lowering of legal threshold to fight rogue firms
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak
Historic trademark victory, but sunset clause applies to future blocks
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.