Privacy Law

Judgment forcing Yahoo to take part in PRISM to be made public

Details of how Yahoo was forced by a court order to participate in the US intelligence surveillance programme, PRISM, are to be made public.

Secret judgment shows Yahoo forced to participate in PRISM © Benjamin-Duda-Fotolia

Secret judgment shows Yahoo forced to participate in PRISM © Benjamin-Duda-Fotolia

PRISM: Yahoo forced to participate

Ever since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) snooping programme, PRISM, Yahoo has denied that it voluntarily handed masses amounts of data to the US government.

Now, the technology company has won an application made to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to publish the secret judgment handed down in 2008.

The judgment shows that Yahoo was forced to participate in the US spying programme and that the technology company attempted to fight the government request for data.

Relying on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the US government required Yahoo to hand over internet users’ data, but lawyers for Yahoo argued it was unconstitutional to comply with the broad requests.

Judgment to be published following censorship

Yahoo released a statement on the events saying it hopes to “contribute constructively to the ongoing public discussion around online privacy”.

However, the victory is not a pure one. Before the judgment is published the US government will be able to examine the documents and if necessary, censor any sensitive information.

The US government has until 29 July to publish a timetable detailing how long it will need to make the judgment and related documents publicly available.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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