Thanks, Yahoo, for resisting the Stasi
U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data
The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user data that the company believed was unconstitutional, according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA’s controversial PRISM program.
The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.
Gee, I feel honored. I've had a Yahoo address for years. I'm very pleased to have been one tiny reason for an out-of-control security apparatus and a lawless executive to gut the Fourth Amendment.
At issue in the original court case was a recently passed law, the Protect America Act of 2007, which allowed the government to collect data on people it “reasonably believed” to be outside of the United States at the time without getting an individual search warrant for each target. That law has since lapsed but became the foundation for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which created the legal authority for many of the NSA programs later revealed by Snowden.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 is the law that ginormous asshole, Barack Obama, promised to filibuster but then flip-flopped on in July 2008. (Hillary, to her credit, voted No.)
A version of the court ruling had come out previously, in 2008, but was so heavily redacted that observers were unable to discern what company was involved, what the stakes were and how the court had wrestled with many of the issues involved.
“We already knew that this was a very, very important decision by the FISA Court of Review, but we could only guess at why,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University.
Secret law is not law. The Framers must be rolling in their graves. The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It's plain as day to anybody who isn't a ginormous asshole that "papers" in the 21st Century means email. The form -- cellulose or bytes -- is irrelevant. The substance is what matters.
A very, very fitting story to appear on 9/11.