As PRISM starts unwinding, one thing that will come to light is how easily companies complied with the ruling. It turns out that the staunchest defender of your civil rights was, of all companies, Yahoo!. Yes, Yahoo!.
In a secret court in Washington, Yahoo’s top lawyers made their case. The government had sought help in spying on certain foreign users, without a warrant, and Yahoo had refused, saying the broad requests were unconstitutional. The judges disagreed. That left Yahoo two choices: Hand over the data or break the law.
Yahoo!’s loss actually set the stage for every tech company to comply: Because Yahoo! took their best shot and lost, everybody else pretty much had no other choice but to fork over the data when asked. It’s interesting for many reasons, not the least of which is because this is likely to be the only data we’re going to get on the topic for a while: Because the court proceedings are secret, we don’t know who agreed with no trouble and who put up a fight.
It seems likely that more about this will come out over time; more tech companies are demanding the right to disclose what’s happening to their customers. But for now, consider giving Yahoo! a little love. Hey, at least they tried.