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Yahoo wins lawsuit to declassify docs proving resistance to PRISM

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Search engine Yahoo has won a court case to release NSA records and potentially prove it resisted handing over customer data to US authorities. The ruling could clear Yahoo’s name following allegations it collaborated with the NSA to spy on citizens.

The US Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Court ruled that data, pertaining to a 2008 order for Yahoo to hand over customer information to US authorities, should be revealed.

“The Government shall conduct a declassification review of this Court’s Memorandum Opinion of [Yahoo’s case] and the legal briefs submitted by the parties to this Court,” the ruling read.

Through the ruling the Internet search engine seeks to prove that it did not collaborate with the NSA in its Prism spy program.

Classified documents leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA gathered supposedly private user information from the data banks of as Yahoo, Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and others. All of the organizations have denied being in cahoots with US authorities and maintain the NSA gleaned the information without their knowledge.

“Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network,” said a company spokesperson back in June when Edward Snowden went public with the NSA leaks.

The company filed a request to the US Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Court on June 14 to make the 2008 case public. Yahoo says it means to help inform the public in the ongoing debate over the US government’s sweeping spy programs.

US authorities have not expressed any opinion over the data that is to be disclosed but has asked that they be given two week to review the information before its release.

Staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mark Rumold, expressed doubts over the government’s transparency.

“It remains to be seen how forthcoming (the government) will be. The administration has said they want a debate about the propriety of the surveillance, but they haven’t really provided information to inform that debate. So declassifying these opinions is a very important place to start,” Rumold told AP.

EFF also noted in a statement that more companies could have made requests to the court and the Yahoo request had a gag order on it.

“We encourage every company that has opposed a FISA 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,” said the company.

Washington has come under fire for its sweeping surveillance programs, provoking the ire of civil rights groups. The Obama Administration justifies the covert gathering of meta-data as a measure against terrorism.


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2 Responses to " Yahoo wins lawsuit to declassify docs proving resistance to PRISM "

  1. Leech says:

    So Obama wants a debate about the validity of the 4th Amendment? Sorry, that’s not open for debate because the Constitutional Convention resolved that debate over 200 years ago. The Bill of Rights mean what it says, and it says government shall not violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The first half of the 4th Amendment bans “unreasonable searches and seizures”, and the second half, known as the Warrant Clause, requires a search warrant supported by an affidavit signed under oath showing probable cause that a crime was committed and specifying the places to be searched and the things to be seized. Without the allegation of a specific crime being committed, there can be no valid warrant.

    So the entire NSA domestic spying program is illegal under U.S. law. FISA court general search warrants are illegal precisely because those were the reason why the 4th Amendment was written. Public officials should be placed on trial for what the NSA has done.

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    • Zharkov says:

      The British General Warrant was the most hated aspect of British rule over the American colonies. British soldiers would enter homes and seize firearms from the colonists pursuant to a General Warrant, and that is what began the American Revolution and resulted in the 4th Amendment.

      British “Writs of Assistance” purported to authorize the search of any place in which the Crown’s agents thought smuggled goods might be hidden. Boston merchants challenged the Writs in court in 1761, and attorney James Otis argued that the common law banned general warrants. Otis lost the case against the Crown, but his argument was popular in the increasingly rebellious colonies.

      As a result General Warrants defined as those without probable cause, or failing to specify things to be seized or places to be searched, are banned by the Constitution.

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