When Yahoo didn’t comply with a National Security Agency request to hand over user data under the PRISM surveillance program, the US government threatened it with daily fines of $250K, the company has revealed.
Ron Bell, Yahoo’s general counsel, said in a blog post, that the company “refused to comply with what we viewed as unconstitutional and overbroad surveillance and challenged the US Government’s authority.”
The PRISM electronic data mining program was first exposed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Almost all the major US tech firms were listed as participants in the program.
The details of Yahoo’s attempt to resist joining the program come as a federal court judge unsealed 1,500 pages on Thursday related to a case the company filed with the Federal Intelligence Service Court (FISA), which provides legal authority in surveillance requests. Yahoo eventually lost the case on appeals.
But despite the partial declassification, some of the documents remain sealed, “unknown even to our team,” Bell said. “The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US Government’s surveillance efforts.”
“At one point, the US Government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply,” Bell wrote.
“A decision to open FISC or FISC-R records to the public is extremely rare, “ he added in his blog. “Now that the FISC-R has agreed to unseal the proceedings at our request, we are working to make these documents available.”
Yahoo’s general counsel said the pages will be made available on its blog page.