Yahoo concerned that release of redacted FISA papers may mislead

The company had earlier asked the court to release certain documents to show it resisted NSA data collection

Yahoo has asked that it be allowed to review declassified documents of a secret court about a dispute over data collection between the Internet company and the government, as the release of the redacted documents could mislead the public.

The company had asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in July to order the public release of a secret order in a 2008 surveillance dispute, as it would demonstrate that the Internet company "objected strenuously" to government directives.

Former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, disclosed through newspaper reports that Internet companies provided real-time access to content on their servers to the NSA under a surveillance program called Prism. The Internet companies denied the charge.

Most data requests are in the form of "gag orders," which prohibit the recipients of orders from discussing them in public.

Yahoo said in its filing that disclosure of the information of the 2008 dispute would show that it objected at every stage of the proceedings, but these objections were overruled and a stay denied.

The FISC court ruled in July that the government should do a "declassification review" of the court's memorandum of opinion in 2008 and legal briefs submitted by the parties, as it anticipates publishing its opinion in a redacted form.

In a filing made public on Tuesday, Yahoo has now asked the court for permission to review the government's submissions to "ensure that its redactions are well-founded and do not unintentionally create a risk that the documents will be misunderstood." Yahoo also want to review the documents to be able to object to any redactions that the court may also make.

Internet companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are separately demanding that the court allow them to provide data to the public on the number of user data requests that they receive from the U.S. government under national security statutes such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in a bid to clear their names from Snowden's charges of bulk collection of data. The companies have been so far allowed to publish aggregate data of all U.S. law enforcement and national security requests.

The U.S. government has decided to release data annually on its secret spy orders and the number of people affected by them, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said in August, but the companies want to publish information on orders served to each one of them.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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Tags governmentprivacyregulationinternetlegalYahooInternet-based applications and servicesInternet service providersForeign Intelligence Surveillance Court

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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