Yahoo! Fought Back Against PRISM, Lost In Secret Ruling

from the once-again dept

As more and more details come out about PRISM, it appears that the attention and blame really belongs on the government, rather than the tech companies (for the most part). While it was known that an unnamed company had fought back against FISA Court orders back in 2008, the name of the company was not known. However, now the NY Times is reporting that Yahoo! fought back against being told to provide info on users, until the court ruled against them -- and the ruling (as an unnamed company and with details heavily redacted) was then released to put other companies on notice that they, too, had to comply. The rubber stamp FISA Court insisted that there was nothing wrong with the requests, saying that Yahoo's concerns were "overblown."
“Notwithstanding the parade of horribles trotted out by the petitioner, it has presented no evidence of any actual harm, any egregious risk of error, or any broad potential for abuse,” the court said, adding that the government’s “efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”
As the article points out, Google and Twitter have also fought back against various attempts by the federal government to reach deep into their databases -- and, in both cases, have lost those lawsuits.

Of course, it appears that some companies, like Microsoft and the telcos are much more comfortable with providing info to the government.

It really seems like the focus of concern should very much be on the government's requests here, as well as the secret FISA court and its rubber stamp, given that companies that have tried to fight back against the government keep losing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Yeah, about that...

    '...it has presented no evidence of any actual harm, any egregious risk of error, or any broad potential for abuse,” the court said'

    Kinda hard for a person or company to do that, when all details that would show such harm or abuse are classified due to 'national security' reasons, and any time they are sought or somehow manage to slip through the cracks and go public the request/evidence is squashed and prevented from being presented for those same reasons.

     

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  2.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:05am

    Not the government...

    I think we're approaching this wrongly...

    If the reporting on this is true, then I'm not going to blame the government.

    Okay, put down your pitchforks and let me explain...

    I've always ran on the idea that people respond to incentives. While I accept that the government did want more power, there's a second story at play here...

    Who is the government trying to protect? As far as I can gather, with the HBGary leak, the Manning leaks, and now the Prism leaks, there's a recurring theme...

    I have to put my money on the contractors and the competition to Wikileaks wanting to erase anyone that opposes them. Our government already outsources 70% of their contracts to Booz Allen, Halliburton, and other private information contractors.

    So how is it any wonder that the government shares interests with the people it protects?

    We lost our democratic republic and the government works for the highest bidder. And the bidders are the Stratfors, and other defense contractors that milk taxpayer dollars for their own salaries and are unscrupulous when it comes to using the government to do their bidding.

    I mean hell, the corruption laundering has been going on for so long that we have corporate interests in how people enjoy the arts as well as what information is public.

    Is it really that much of a stretch to think that our government is not what the people wanted but what the people in high positions of power want?

     

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  3.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Re: Not the government...

    Interesting. You say...

    If the reporting on this is true, then I'm not going to blame the government


    But then you follow this statement with an excellent summary of exactly why we should blame the government.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:28am

    the court said, adding that the government’s “efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”

    This kinda reads, "it's too much extra work to go through the courts, so we are just going to have full access in the name of "national security", constitution doesn't apply obviously!

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    That settles that

    I had honestly wondered if the secret court was really a rubber stamp.

    Notwithstanding the parade of horribles trotted out by the petitioner...

    No more.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Reminds me of a song

    [Yahoo] fought the [secret] law and the [secret] law won.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPXnoLAEUSQ

     

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  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Why does anonymity/privacy lover Mike Masnick have the moderation filter catching posts of users utilizing TOR? Hmm....

     

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  8.  
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    Nothing to hide, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Penalty for non-compliance

    Can anyone suggest what penalty Yahoo! might have faced for simply ignoring the court order? It would seem that any sort of enforcement action would have been extremely public since Yahoo! is a publicly traded company.

     

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  9.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    wat?

     

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  10.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re:

    Why are you using TOR? You must be a terrorist! Well, at least that is the way you guys lay it out.

     

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  11.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Probable cause

    any egregious risk of error

    So 51% accuracy isn't egregious?

     

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  12.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Re: TOR issue

    I have used TOR without problems before.
    Maybe it is the exit node you are on?

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    Why does anonymity/privacy lover Mike Masnick have the moderation filter catching posts of users utilizing TOR? Hmm....

    We don't. We use a variety of anti-spam filters to catch spam, and it sometimes catches legitimate comments, which we tend to free up within hours (a bit longer over the weekend and late at night). It is true that tor-based comments are slightly more likely to be caught in the filter because (shockingly) tor is often used by spammers. However, if the comments are legit, we free them pretty quickly. Also, it does not catch all tor comments. Many of them get through no problem. The system uses a variety of heuristics to figure out what is and what is not spam.

    The system that catches those comments catches approximately 1,000 spam comments per day. It tends to catch very, very few legitimate comments, and those it does catch are put live on the site pretty quickly.

    We have no problem with people using tor.

     

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  14. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Mike defends Google with "no evidence of any actual harm"

    Okay, it's "no evidence of real harm" in this link, and he coyly omits specific names, but Mike's standard is clear that despite all history we must never anticipate any evil will be done by corporations:
    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20121020/22581720775/why-dc-silicon- valley-dont-mix-well.shtml
    Fanboys won't concede the point, hardly surprising.

    Anyhoo, the Qwest example of a corporation that objected publicly is still good. You can use the evil Google yourself if interested: I don't expose myself to its toxic lure too often. But PUBLIC OBJECTION is what Yahoo and Google and any others should do. You can't fight the gov't by yourself, not even Google (as if wanted to: pffft!); it takes a whole nation to say NO to the gov't.

    So, corporations, follow Snowden's example of PUBLIC WHISTLEBLOWING FROM NOW ON, or we're just not going to believe that you're on our side.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    is it any wonder why the USA is so untrusted? any wonder why no one has any faith in the legal system? any wonder why no one has any faith in the courts? any wonder why no one has any faith in politicians in general, let alone the ones with the highest power!

     

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  16.  
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    res2 (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    FISA and DOJ

    are destroying this country faster than any terrorist could.

     

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  17.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    “efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”

    Wow. So much for checks and balances.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    like all things done in secret, there is something to hide! perhaps if the 'court' had been held openly, so that everyone knew what was happening, who was involved and why, the conclusion reached may have been different. this shows exactly which way the ruling was going to go. the explanation was total crap! the ones that reached it knew it but still came out with it. they should be severely reprimanded and removed from office straight away. they obviously cannot be trusted to carry out objectively the job they were doing.

     

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  19.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Not the government...

    I think a better idea might be to focus on the people they protect. If you focus on the government, it leads to private actors to repeat the process. That was the point I wanted to make. Any focus on the government should also focus on the private actors that they're protecting or we'll see a repeat of this and that's what I want to avoid.

     

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  20. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re: That settles that

    Why? Yahoo came to court with a bunch of "it might" and "it possible" and "it coulds"... things with no actual basis, no proof by example, just a bunch of fears. Should the courts block access by fear alone?

    It says pretty much that Yahoo's objections were based on only what in extreme cases might happen, and considering the record since that date, have been shown to be entirely unfounded.

    The only rubber stamp in play here is the one that keeps hammering NSA SURVEILLANCE in the Google search results.

     

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  21.  
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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Follow the money

    The companies that have a lot of revenue at stake with the Government (Microsoft and the telcos) are more likely to screw their users at government request?

    This is shocking, said nobody ever.

     

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  22. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    So, Yahoo, what heroics have you done for us lately?

    First, I made no less than THREE major mistakes in my previous post:

    ) "Mike's standard" should be "Mike's libertarian notions".
    ) Distraction with taking a dig at Mike, not just yours but mine,
    ) when I'd lurched into the most important point to be made, failed to see how important it is as titled here.

    So, Google, Yahoo, and all, don't just tell us that you tried and your hands were tied by the court, we just have to live with this new level of tyranny. No matter is ever settled until it's approved by the public. Despite NO action on YOUR part, this matter is now public, and opinion is CLEAR on how you're regarded as being in cahoots with the over-reaching gov't. So NOW is the time for action. -- IF you really want to serve the public good.


    By the way, my opinion on why so many names have been put out is purposely to diffuse the blame: they're all doing it, public can't take it out any one. -- And now they've expanded it to literally THOUSANDS of firms. This "leak" STILL has all the signs of a limited hangout intelligence psyop.

     

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  23.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Mike defends Google with "no evidence of any actual harm"

    Seconded. Corporate rejection, in concert, communicating to the public all actions taken in the name of national security.

    Then, oddly enough, I'd feel secure enough to pop some corn and watch the show.

     

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  24.  
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    DCX2, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: That settles that

    It's a shame that when the abuses finally do come to light, you probably won't have the gumption to own up to the fact that you were wrong.

    After all, letting the police go searching through everyone's homes for criminals without a warrant is full of "it mights" and "it's possible" and "it coulds". So long as we trust the police to be professional, efforts to protect the public from criminals should not be frustrated by the Court. Right?

    I mean, it's not like some previous President was wiretapping his political opponents under the auspice of Article II powers to protect the nation during a time of war...

     

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  25.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: That settles that

    Should the courts block access by fear alone?

    Oh sure, the courts aren't persuaded by fear it's only the entire fukcing rest of the country that has to put up with irrationality and fear based decision making.

    Good job unmaking your case.

     

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  26.  
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    DCX2, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:31pm

    Rubber stamp?

    I see a lot of talk about how FISC is a rubber stamp. In isolation, the statistics certainly are a bit damning.

    However, I would like to know what ratio of Federal wiretap warrants are rejected by judges. This way we could compare "traditional" wiretap approval rates with FISA approval rates.

    I mean, if I was going to ask a judge for a wiretap, I'd have my shit together. Having your shit together might explain why the vast majority of the time, the wiretaps are approved. That said, it does seem fishy that there is a vanishingly tiny amount of wiretaps rejected by the FISC.

     

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  27.  
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    DCX2, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Rubber stamp?

    http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/Statistics/WiretapReports/2010/2010WireTapReport.pdf

    That's the 2010 Wiretap Report. Note that it does not include FISA, it's just "traditional" wiretaps.

    In 2010, only one wiretap was denied. (page 7, second paragraph, third sentence)

    It appears that FISC is no more and no less a rubber stamp than any other Federal or State Court.

     

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  28.  
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    Alt0, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: That settles that

    There's nothing iffy about the simple fact that it goes against the 4th amendment and IS a violation of privacy.
    I am pretty sure that if they actually intended to fight the order that this was one of the "horribles" they brought up.
    Thats not an "it might' or "could possibly".

     

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  29.  
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    TechnoMage (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    XBOX One ... aka.. Xbox (D)One

    So the key line in this for gamers and people interested in the new video game consoles.. is:

    "Of course, it appears that some companies, like Microsoft and the telcos are much more comfortable with providing info to the government. "

    Yeah... Microsoft... Try convincing people that you should be trusted with 1080p HD cameras in people's living rooms/bedrooms with highly sensitive microphones that are REQUIRED to online... I don't care what you say about "wanting to protect my privacy", I don't care what you say... at all... Because you didn't... fight for my rights when it mattered...

    Just imagine how quickly the DOJ or DAs will ask for the courts to allow wiretapping the video/audio of xbox one(s)... Is going to happen immediately. How amazing would that be for police to WATCH the suspect in 1080p HD camera... that THE SUSPECT put in his own house...

    *doesn't want to be paranoid... but geeze... buying this system is just asking for trouble....* And all this news coming out the week before/of E3, the largest video game conference there is... is HORRIBLE timing for MS.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Might want to 'tweek' them filters a bit to catch the random OOTB and HWNN comments, as these don't measure up to what could be considered legitimate either.
    (Altho' Blue does actually stay lucid throughout an entire post from time to time)

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    So what exactly happens to a highly visible public company whey they refuse to follow a secret ruling? Do they trump up charges for the leadership to punish them? Seems like a company with some balls would just say "We're not complying, if you don't like it we'll be happy to tell the public why we're being arrested"

     

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  32.  
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    Wolfy, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    The blame for t5his and all other atrocities committed by the US Gov't. lies squarely with the citizenry, both voting and non-voting. If you want to be babied, this is what you get. Otherwise Democracy requires an educated, _informed_ and involved citizenry.

     

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  33.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Not the government...

    Eisenhower called it the "military-industrial complex".

     

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  34.  
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    Birdy, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Why does Masnick keep correlating any given FISA court order with PRISM? Their are other FISA requests, over, above, and in addition to PRISM. He's got a bad case of denial here.

     

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  35.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    Re: XBOX One ... aka.. Xbox (D)One

    *Puts on tinfoil hat*
    Yeah, I doubt I would have purchased an Xbox One (at least not at retail launch prices) anytime soon, but this puts a nail in it.
    There is NO WAY you are getting one of these in my house now, even if a friend brought one over I would probably make him/her tape over the camera and mic.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Re: XBOX One ... aka.. Xbox (D)One

    Remember that the XBox One's Kinect is infrared. That means it can see you in the dark.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: XBOX One ... aka.. Xbox (D)One

    Doesn't the 360 have cams and mics too?

    I'm not a gamer so I'm not familiar with the 360.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Not terrorist, TerrORist! It's right there in the name...

     

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  39.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    Re:

    It would seem a Senator or two would also sacrifice their lives for their country but everyone does love to go home at night.

    Congress where checks and balances actually means we'll give you the checks and you can balance reality through the veil of serving your constituents and your country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 15th, 2013 @ 12:40am

    Re: Re: Re: XBOX One ... aka.. Xbox (D)One

    It can(via the Kinect), but for the 360 it's optional, you can plug it in(assuming you bought one anyway), or leave it unconnected, and the system works fine either way. The XBone on the other hand will not work if the built in Kinect is disabled, so if you want to use the system, but don't care to be potentially spied on in your house, too bad.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Dave, Jun 15th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    This is total b*ll*cks. He sounds a very, VERY sad person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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