Tag Archives: Yahoo

Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Protect Journalists’ Electronic Information

A bill introduced in Montana’s House Judiciary Committee on Thursday would prevent state government agencies from using companies such as Google and Yahoo to obtain a Journalist’s sources and information.

The Associated Press reported that “no one spoke in opposition to the bill,” which would prohibit all state government officials from “asking for a member of the media’s emails or other electronic communications from companies that store that information.”

Representative Daniel Zolnikov, a Republican from Billings, Montana, proposed the bill. He claimed he is not looking to change the existing law; rather he wants to close a loophole in the current law.

“My bill does not change existing law, but adds to it based on a new age of digital communications,” said Zolnikov. He explained that the existing media shield law does not protect a reporter’s emails or other electronic information that might be stored on the servers of Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook.

According to Courthouse News, after proposing a bill in 2013 that was later labeled “anti-business,” but would have “given consumers control over their personal data and prevented companies from reselling it behind their backs,” Zolnikov is “no stranger to privacy issues.”

The Associated Press reported that this bill is one of several Zolnikov is sponsoring to “protect privacy rights in the state.” His other proposed bills would secure privacy for the citizens of Montana by banning license plate readers in the state and by prohibiting state officials from gathering electronic data without a warrant.

On his website, Zolnikov wrote that after seeing “unprecedented attacks on the rights of the press in recent years at the federal level,” he felt it was best to show support for reporters by starting at the state level.

Freedom of the press is one of the most crucial rights contained in the First Amendment,” wrote Zolnikov. “We can’t change the Federal Government’s attitude towards the important of the reporter’s privilege, but we can strengthen Montana’s shield laws.

Dropbox Fights New NSA Data Grab

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.”