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Communications Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Courts United States Yahoo!

Yahoo Receives Special Recognition For Fighting For User Data Privacy 58

An anonymous reader writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded Yahoo a gold star for its diligence in fighting for user privacy in courts. From the release: 'In 2007, Yahoo received an order to produce user data under the Protect America Act (the predecessor statute to the FISA Amendments Act, the law on which the NSA’s recently disclosed Prism program relies). Instead of blindly accepting the government’s constitutionally questionable order, Yahoo fought back. The company challenged the legality of the order in the FISC, the secret surveillance court that grants government applications for surveillance. And when the order was upheld by the FISC, Yahoo didn’t stop fighting: it appealed the decision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, a three-judge appellate court established to review decisions of the FISC. ... Yahoo went to bat for its users – not because it had to, and not because of a possible PR benefit – but because it was the right move for its users and the company. It’s precisely this type of fight – a secret fight for user privacy – that should serve as the gold standard for companies, and such a fight must be commended. While Yahoo still has a way to go in the other Who Has Your Back categories (and they remain the last major email carrier not using HTTPS encryption by default), Yahoo leads the pack in fighting for its users under seal and in secret.'" Although they did end up losing, and were forbidden from even mentioning the existence of the case until recently.
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Yahoo Receives Special Recognition For Fighting For User Data Privacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Although they did end up losing, and were forbidden from even mentioning the existence of the case until recently.

    • by ClaraBow ( 212734 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:13PM (#44291929)
      But putting up a good fight matters! When the Zombies came looking for their users' brains, they at least boarded the doors and windows and load the shotguns and screamed Yahoo!!!!!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, the good fight. How about they put up a good fight and fix their auth cookie vulnerabilities that lead to infected ads stealing user credentials and sending spam as authenticated Yahoo users? That's been going on for quite a while and still happens daily.

        The brains of the Yahoo board aren't enough to be appetizers for zombies.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:13PM (#44291927) Journal

    They will risk jail and disregard all gag orders as a clear violation of free speech rights. I'm not impressed with show trials while secret deals are made in the back room.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:14PM (#44292387)

      I remember not long ago, when they helped China prosecute a journalist that supposedly leaked state secrets to a website and helped "out" chinese dissidents and helped the chinese implement and facilitate internet censorship.

      • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:02AM (#44292673) Journal

        That's right, and this article has me beginning to doubt the objectivity of the EFF and has me wondering why they are kissing corporate ass. It's like giving the Nobel to Obama. Pure bullshit. Neither Yahoo or any other company of its size will ever act heroically in any fashion. The have no reason to do so. The best they will ever do is put on these fine displays to pump up the share price for a couple days and to pacify us useless takers.

        • I have no problem with the EFF giving recognition to Yahoo for the one area they are doing well in. They have their Who Has Your Back awards divided into six sections, and this is the only section that Yahoo has done well in. It doesn't excuse all of Yahoo's other BS, but the whole thing would be pointless if they refused to acknowledge good in one area while the others were yet lacking.
          • Would you give a medal of honor to a war hero if he is a known rapist? I know I wouldn't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Holi ( 250190 )

        Because in China it's the Law. And here they fought to follow the law. It's just the US government decided that the law does not apply to them.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:25AM (#44292839)

      It isn't a "show trial" if is entirely secret.

      As for risking jail - they already risked jail doing what they did.

      The CEO of QWEST resisted warrantless wiretapping and they found a way to send him to jail for shareholder fraud - by canceling all of QWEST's classified contracts and thus making him into an inside trader for having sold shares when he thought the contracts were still good.

    • Amen, brother --- the right of freedom of speech doesn't acknowledge secret courts. Hats off to you That is all.
  • Remarkable and sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:20PM (#44291981) Homepage Journal
    It is remarkable, that they put up such a fight. It is sad, that they had to... It is encouraging, that the gag-order was not indefinite.

    I can see, why this sort of procedure — including the gag-order — may be justified in some cases. But it is so easy to abuse, I'm not sure, the benefits we are getting are worth the risk we are taking.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      by risks I assume you mean some false sense of terrorism? this rating came out some time ago, and I really question Yahoo's fights!! They are not a very good search engine to begin with, nor do they have anything the NSA or other agencies are interested in, they have become more like a defunct news group then anything that is close to MS, Google or Apple. So whatever agency is interested in data from yahoo, they are more then likely going to acquire the same information from the other 3 big companies, and t

    • Yahoo just went up a big step in my books with this. It's also nice to see the ratings of who's the most responsible to their users. It's also nice to see Google near the top despite the ongoing FUD campaign against them (the one gold star they're missing isn't actually correct, or at least I though they were one of the first to publish reports of government requests). Microsoft is better than I would have thought, Twitter is better and Apple is right where I'd expect them to be.

  • Ain't it nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:25PM (#44292015)

    This is just like Kafkas "Der Prozess".

    You got secret laws that people/companies are ordered by a secret court to be followed, and they are not even allowed to tell anybody about it.

    Land of the free.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes but in the book, they didnt have the *internet*, nor a taskmanager/sytem monitor to kill said Prozess!

      Probable Cause, Sir, is much different from the grounds on which Obama is pursuing Snowdon.

      Snowdon was a sort of "consciencious objector", exept he never worked for the government, he worked for a private company.

      This whole *controversy* regarding Snowdon is a distraction of other events which merit a slot in TV news, for example the coup in Egypt, israeli nuclear weapons test launches, etc.

      Snowdon is n

    • Say hi to Trixia for me :-)

  • Same Yahoo? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SJ ( 13711 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:38PM (#44292131)

    Is this the same Yahoo! that turned over data to the Chinese, which resulted in a bunch of people going to prison?

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/08/technology/yahoo_china_b20/ [cnn.com]

    Seems like a convenient PR stunt to me.

    • Re:Same Yahoo? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:29AM (#44292863)

      If you look at the timeline it seems they started fighting the NSA after they fucked up with the chinese dissidents. Seems like they made the best out of a bad situation and learned their lesson. They deserve credit for that - it seems like no one, other than perhaps twitter, learned the lesson from watching Yahoo screw up since basically everybody else rolled over for the NSA.

    • Is this the same Yahoo! who showed their disrespect for user data privacy when they ignored and/or reset the "do not spam" preferences of their user account without users' knowledge? I knew of this because I supplied an alternate email address used for nothing but Yahoo! and I STILL got spam there.
  • Never Forget (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdogalt ( 961241 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:48PM (#44292199) Journal

    http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/cases/china-shi-tao [amnestyusa.org]
    Shi Tao was sentenced in April 2005 to 10 years’ imprisonment and two years’ subsequent deprivation of his political rights. According to the court verdict, part of the evidence for the case was account holder information supplied by Yahoo!. Spokespersons for Yahoo! claimed the company was simply following local laws.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/28/yahoo_seeks_dismissal_human_rights_lawsuit/ [theregister.co.uk]
    Yahoo! has asked a US court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of "aiding and abetting" acts of torture and other human rights abuses against Chinese dissidents. The company handed over information about its users to the Chinese government, which led to the arrests of the dissidents.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yahoo-helps-china-jail-dissidents-says-rights-group [marketwatch.com]
    Human Rights in China, a New York-based group, said Thursday that Wang Xiaoning was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Sept 2003 for "incitement to subvert state power" after Yahoo provided authorities with his email address.

    and call me a tinfoil hatter all you want, but I do think this and the Snowden-crash issues are related-
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3929983&cid=44170993 [slashdot.org]

  • by Rob_Bryerton ( 606093 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:54PM (#44292243) Homepage
    The real cost of these BS authoritarian programs, as far as dollar figures go: First, we all get to fund these despicable agencies via our tax dollars. If that's not bad enough, then the drag on the economy manifested through situations such as the one described in TFS.

    Everybody loses.

    Not even taking into account the corrosive effects of these programs on our freedoms and rights.
  • I'm only half kidding. As much fun as it is to mock Yahoo for being, well... Yahoo, they certainly deserve all the brownie points coming their way for defending their users' privacy.

    And while the EFF is handing these out, they ought to give one to this guy [arstechnica.com].

  • In the end, they're a huge internet company that gives all our stuff up to the spooks. "Going to bat" would be doing what Snowden did - INFORMING us. They had years to do that.

  • you can fight for my rights anytime~~

    • you can fight for my rights anytime~~

      This was all pre-Marissa. Marissa's public history is at Google, where user rights are eliminated with a wink and a smile.

      • Actually, while Yahoo has finally earned their first gold star from the EFF in one of six categories on protecting customer data from government, Google has five of six covered. I know it's becoming popular to hate on Google, and I've backed off using some of their services, but try to keep the facts straight when doing the whole company A is better than company B chest thumping thing.
  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @01:51AM (#44293239) Journal

    If Mayer really wanted to skate to where the puck is going, she'd make a massive push to retool Yahoo into a privacy-centric company.

    Move as much of Yahoo out of the USA as possible so they can speak to their users freely. Very publicly and loudly proclaim that they will not play ball with government spy agencies, and back it up with real and demonstrable steps toward that end. Encrypt everything. Set up their services to make it cryptographically impossible for them to turn over plaintext to anyone. Keep the absolute minimum logs required by law. Don't collect any information that isn't absolutely necessary. Alert everyone to all government requests for data whenever possible, and give every user a status in their account which says, "Your information has NOT been requested by a government or intelligence agency" which disappears when this statement is no longer true. Provide a deadman's switch to automatically delete data according to some user-defined criteria. Open their infrastructure to community audits from trusted security experts. Have bug bounties for security flaws. Do all this and more. These are all legal and many could be implemented immediately.

    Done sincerely, this could earn them respect, users, customers, and profits. They'd keep their old users of course (if they're still with Yahoo nothing is going to get them to budge) but they'd be set up to grow into a huge new sector. Privacy is going to be big in the coming years, and the technology exists to nearly completely, and legally, nullify most of the efforts of the surveillance state. They could steal all of the users who are wary of Google and Microsoft but don't see any decent alternatives. The companies which set themselves in this direction now are going to be the leaders that everyone else is chasing in 5-10 years. Kim Dotcom's Mega was arguably the first, putting privacy as the number one priority in their mission statement. Yahoo has the resources to be a big player in the this space.

    What else can they do to save a dying brand? What better way to really set themselves apart? So much of what the NSA et al do is predicated on the complacency and collusion of private enterprise. Yahoo could stand head and shoulders above the rest by saying no when they come asking. Sorry, come back with a warrant. Got a warrant? OK, here's your encrypted pseudo-random noise--and its in dead-tree format. We are still at the point where government needs private business to cooperate. Business still has a choice in a lot of this. They can still choose to be on the side of privacy and liberty, and they could be greatly rewarded for it.

    • What I'd like from Yahoo is a browser addon to enable transparent use of PGP for their webmail client. A centralised database of public keys with automatic handling of key requests for new recipients within the Yahoo domain, automatic publishing of your own public key to their database through the addon, and a pretty, wizard-like front end for key generation outside of the browser.

      I'm no coder, but that doesn't sound hard to me. We can already input into forms from addons, it should be trivial to link it w
    • Move as much of Yahoo out of the USA as possible so they can speak to their users freely. This is why the NSA's actions are a tragedy.

  • If they do all that fighting in secret courts, small wonder that nobody knows they're still exist.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein