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Surveillance Racket: Feds threatened Yahoo with $250K per day fine to force data release

21st Century Wire says…

Should the government have dominion over all of your private emails, chat and data? Washington thinks so, and has strong-armed companies into submission…

“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 communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program,” reports Craig Timberg in The Washington Post.

Comply, or die.

That’s called the surveillance racket...

This Yahoo! revelation reveals a lot about NSA intimidation used to get companies to “participate” in illegal programs like PRISM which have been in full swing during the last 6 years.

The state claims it wants your emails in order to catch Islamic terrorists, but it’s much more than that. Already, state sanctioned surveillance against specific individuals takes place daily, but the real dragnet happens on an industrial scale. As the state becomes computerized and increasingly automated giving bureaucrats less real work to do, bureaucrats are left to feed the monster, and the monster feeds on data. Thus, data has become a commodity for the state.

Just how far away from the democratic process has the US drifted? Certainly, far enough that the US and its officials can no longer rightly lecture anyone overseas about ‘democratic values and principles’…


U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data


Craig Timberg

Washington Post

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 communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’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 NSA extensive access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.

The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown.

A version of the court ruling had been released in 2009 but was so heavily redacted that observers were unable to discern which 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.

PRISM was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year, prompting intense backlash and a wrenching national debate over allegations of overreach in government surveillance.

Documents made it clear that the program allowed the NSA to order U.S.-based tech companies to turn over e-mails and other communications to or from foreign targets without search warrants for each of those targets. Other NSA programs gave even more wide-ranging access to ­personal information of people worldwide, by collecting data directly from fiber-optic connections…

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