Yahoo has won a court order allowing the declassification of documents that reveal its efforts to fight data requests under the PRISM system when it was first established in 2008. The decision is a notable victory for the technology industry as it tries to restore user trust after the controversy.
Numerous tech giants such as Yahoo, Twitter and Google said they wanted to provide the public with more information on the data they have to hand over to authorities such as the NSA, but are prevented from doing so under US law.
In response, several have filed legal cases challenging the situation, with Google going as far as citing the first amendment as its right to disclose more information.
Now, in the first notable case since the PRISM scandal broke, Yahoo has won the right to reveal previously classified documents that showed it tried to fight handing over data batches.
Ironically the ruling was made by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, the same court responsible for signing off the government’s data request to US tech firms such as Yahoo.
“The Government shall conduct a declassification review of this Court's Memorandum Opinion of [the case] and the legal briefs submitted by the parties to this Court," the ruling read.
“After such review, the court anticipates publishing that Memorandum Opinion in a form that redacts any properly classified information."
The Department of Justice (DoJ) now has two weeks to consider how long it would take to declassify the documents. V3 contacted Yahoo for comment on the ruling but had received no reply at the time of publication.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation praised Yahoo for its efforts, claiming its willingness to fight was proof that many companies are determined to try and protect user privacy.
“Yahoo went to bat for its users – not because it had to, and not because of a possible PR benefit – but because it was the right move for its users and the company,” it said.
“It’s precisely this type of fight – a secret fight for user privacy – that should serve as the gold standard for companies, and such a fight must be commended.”
During the PRISM scandal Yahoo revealed that it received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for customer data from the US government.
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