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 companies 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.

“The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. Government’s surveillance efforts,” said company General Counsel Ron Bell in a Tumblr post published Thursday afternoon. Continue reading

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