On Thursday, approximately 1,500 pages of court documents were released, which showed how federal officials had forced American technology companies to partake in the PRISM program run by the National Security Agency.
The Washington Post reported that the United States government had “threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications.”
Although Yahoo fought back against the government’s demands, arguing that they were unconstitutional, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled against the company.
In addition to the revelation from the government’s involvement with Yahoo, the company Dropbox released a transparency report on Thursday, which revealed that from January to June 2014, it received 268 requests for user information from law enforcement agencies.
According to The Guardian, those requests “translated into the company handing over content 103 times.” The company also surrendered “non-content” 80 times, which it describes as “subscriber information such as the name and email address associated with the account; the date of account creation and other transactional information like IP addresses.”
Dropbox’s legal counsel, Bart Volkmer, insisted that, although the number of requests is “small compared to our 300 million users,” the company treats all requests the same.
“We treat all the requests we receive seriously and scrutinize them to make sure they satisfy legal requirements before complying,” said Volkmer. “We also push back in cases where agencies are seeking too much information or haven’t followed the proper procedures.”
Yahoo’s loss resulted in the company being one of the first technology companies to give information to PRISM. Due to the vast amount of data obtained by the NSA from Yahoo, it both fostered the PRISM program, and convinced other major companies, such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, to also give in to the NSA’s demands.
According to the Washington Post, 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.”
In a post from Yahoo, the company’s general counsel, Ron Bell, insisted that the recently released documents emphasize how the company “had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. Government’s surveillance efforts.”
“Our fight continues,” wrote Bell, who went on to say that although many documents have been released, Yahoo is “still pushing for the FISC to release materials from the 2007-2008 case in the lower court.”