$250,000 a Day: That's the Fine the Feds Threatened Yahoo With for Resisting Data Demands


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Today, on Tumblr, Yahoo's general counsel announced that 1,500 pages of classified documents related to the company's fight against federal government demands to provide user data are in the process of being made public.

Yahoo resisted in 2008—but lost—when the federal government and National Security Agency (NSA) broadly demanded they provide information about its users without a court review for each target. They ultimately became one of the tech companies that joined PRISM, the mass metadata surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden. Until last year, we didn't even know that Yahoo was the company who fought them, and though the documents aren't all out yet, Yahoo's lawyer gave us all an indicator of how menacing and threatening the feds were: "At one point, the U.S. Government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply." The brief Tumblr post does not indicate where that number came from or by what authority such fines could be ordered. Slate explained last year the complexities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court trying to assign contempt charges to anybody who resisted them here.

The Washington Post has a story here and Yahoo will be updating its Tumblr feed with links to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court documents as they become available.