Surveillance court to declassify documents in 2008 Yahoo case
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will declassify a 2008 court case in which Yahoo protested the government's collection of its users' data.
Reggie Walton, Chief Judge of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), ordered the release of a court decision and accompanying legal briefs from a 2008 case that forced Yahoo to turn over user data to the government as part of the PRISM surveillance program.Skip to next paragraph
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Under the Monday court order, the Department of Justice has to conduct a declassification review of documents and report to the court with the redacted documents by July 29.
The National Security Agency’s data collection and monitoring program, PRISM, was exposed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden in early June and detailed in the Guardian and the Washington Post.
In 2008, a sealed court case challenged an expansive data collection program, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A redacted version of the case, which omitted the details of the data collection program and the name of the petitioner, was one of the few public FISC documents.
Nearly six years after the court case took place, and several weeks after the Prism program was exposed, the New York Times published an exclusive that named Yahoo as the petitioner in the 2008 sealed case.
This placed Yahoo as the first and only Internet provider that is known to have challenged the court’s order to turn over its customers’ data. The 2008 decision set a precedent that forced other Internet service providers to turn over their consumers’ data.
On Sunday, a day after the Times’ article was published, Yahoo filed a petition with FISC to declassify the 2008 decision. The Department of Justice filed a response to the motion, granting Yahoo permission to acknowledge itself as the petitioner in the 2008 case.
Monday’s order will require FISC to reveal details about the 2008 case, though Patrick Toomey, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, is skeptical as to how much new information will be released since the higher court’s decision that ordered Yahoo to comply with the FISC’s request is already public.
The larger significance of the case is that the public will have more information about how FISC operates, Mr. Toomey says.