US Justice Department May Declassify Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Surveillance Orders; Public Disclosure Could Follow

  @natrudy on July 30 2013 1:46 PM

Yahoo Yahoo won an important legal victory toward clearing its name in the PRISM scandal, as a FISA court ruled that the NSA must declassify documents showing that Yahoo fought orders for user data.  Reuters/Fred Prouser

The U.S. Justice Department could soon declassify surveillance orders imposed on Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) by Sept. 12, potentially setting the stage for their public release, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, or FISA, court ruled on July 15 that the materials should be declassified. A declassification review will be complete by Sept. 12, but it’s unclear how much material will be publicly released.

The material relates to Yahoo’s refusal to obey a 2007 government directive, where it was ordered to turn over bulk records for government surveillance purposes.

In a letter to the FISA court, the Justice Department said that further materials in this case will have undergone a declassification review by late September, with other materials to be potentially declassified on an ongoing basis afterward.

Key documents that could be released in early September include an April 2008 court memo and the court’s order compelling Yahoo to obey the Bush administration’s surveillance request.

FISA judge Reggie Walton also revealed in a separate letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that Yahoo was the only one to date that fought a government surveillance order in the secret court.

In June, Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq:MSFT) also filed motions with the court asking for approval to publish aggregate information about surveillance orders they had complied with. Both cases are still pending.

On Wednesday, Leahy is set to chair the first judiciary committee meeting on controversial surveillance programs under the National Security Agency since the programs became public in June.

Leahy is sponsoring legislation that shortens the duration of the Patriot Act and which makes key FISA court rulings more transparent. 

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