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Yahoo Receives Special Recognition For Fighting For User Data Privacy

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the secret-fight dept.

Communications 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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So um... Yay? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44291845)

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

Re:So um... Yay? (4, Funny)

ClaraBow (212734) | about a year ago | (#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:So um... Yay? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292147)

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.

Re:So um... Yay? (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44292851)

What fight?

Going to a secret court where you WILL lose, then appealing to another secret court, where you WILL lose? How heroic.

It's one thing to work hand-in-glove with them like Microsoft and the telecom companies do, but being praised for going through a pointless exercise is a bit much.

It's like building a datacenter 100m closer to a hydro-electric dam than your competitor and claiming you only use green energy because of it's proximity.

Re:So um... Yay? (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44294317)

Yeah. Let's all just give up right now. Especially if nobody is going to know about it. Nice attitude there.

Re:So um... Yay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44294477)

Snowden leak: Microsoft added backdoor for Feds

NSA praises Redmond for 'collaborative teamwork'
There are red faces in Redmond after Edward Snowden released a new batch of documents from the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) division covering Microsoft's involvement in allowing backdoor access to its software to the NSA and others.

Documents seen by The Guardian detail how the NSA became concerned when Microsoft started testing, and asked for access. In five months Microsoft and the FBI created a workaround that gives the NSA access to encrypted chats on The system went live in December last year – two months before's commercial launch. []

Re: So um... Yay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292233)

Mod that up..

Reminds me of... (0, Offtopic)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#44291889)

Anybody seen my dog?

He's missing his left eye, has a broken tail, limps from an infection in his front right paw, is deaf and has worms.

He answers to "Lucky."

Re:Reminds me of... (1)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year ago | (#44292401)

I can't imagine he'd answer to anything at all since he's deaf.

Re:Reminds me of... (-1, Flamebait)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44292859)

He can read lips you insensitive bastard child of a whore.

Is that why viagra emails (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year ago | (#44291915)

keep coming from buncha fuckin liars

Re:Is that why viagra emails (0)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#44292005)

90% of my spam comes from gmail address, the remainder from hotmail.

If they want to be heroes (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44291927)

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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (4, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44292673)

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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (2)

crashcy (2839507) | about a year ago | (#44295031)

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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44296415)

Would you give a medal of honor to a war hero if he is a known rapist? I know I wouldn't.

Re:If they want to be heroes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44298055)

Sure, why not? Many medals honor an individual who demonstrates heroic or meritorious achievement or service. The medals aren't supposed to indicate that the bearer is a perfect person. It commemorates the heroic achievement, and can even reward a despicable person who did good things. A medal of honor wouldn't be a commendation for committing rape or even excuse or negate it, and the rapist would continue to wear the ugly badge of their horrible acts, but any recognition of positive acts encourages more positive acts.

Actions are good or bad based on the actions themselves, not the person who performs them.

Re:If they want to be heroes (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44298229)

You have a point. Conversely, would you reduce the sentence of a convicted rapist if he was a war hero?

Re:If they want to be heroes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44298989)

Absolutely not. The reward or punishment should be meted out based on the act itself and the circumstances surrounding the act. If anything, if a war hero used his status to put his victims off their guard, I might even increase his sentence as that is an even more despicable act and shows greater malice. Every person should be held entirely accountable for their actions based on the actions and their intent alone. Society is not benefited by creating people who are above the law or unfairly hounded by the law.

(I know this counters the common use of higher sentences for repeat offenders and lighter sentences for first-time offenders. I'm not quite sure I agree with that practice, but I have yet to really think it over.)

Re:If they want to be heroes (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44299191)

I can agree with that, but I still believe that Yahoo's intention aren't exactly 'honorable'. Any 'heroics' on their part are entirely incidental, and they still 'lost', for what that's worth. I see it as a charade, and it would behoove the EFF to dig a little deeper. Otherwise these 'awards' look entirely political in nature.

Re:If they want to be heroes (2, Insightful)

Holi (250190) | about a year ago | (#44292695)

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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:If they want to be heroes (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#44292887)

Amen, brother --- the right of freedom of speech doesn't acknowledge secret courts. Hats off to you That is all.

Remarkable and sad (5, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about a year ago | (#44291981)

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.

Re:Remarkable and sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292415)

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 they probably abuse there power to just stick it to Yahoo.

And the government can abuse whatever it wants, why, because they can and nobody is going to stop them. They have been getting away with this stuff for years, I would even say clean back to the days when US government was founded.

Re:Remarkable and sad (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44292467)

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 (4, Interesting)

imsabbel (611519) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Ain't it nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292753)

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 no traitor, Snowdon is not a network of a foreign agency.

Jonathan Pollard, on the other hand, sold out america, and sold his soul when he stole usnavy secrets and sent them to his foreign masters, in israel

AMDOCS+AKAMAI = 95% copy-ability of americans private data.
AIPAC+ADL databases and filing cabinets = gross breaches of privacy, handling of stolen privatedata, and gross breaches of national security for their foreign masters, in israel

Re:Ain't it nice (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about a year ago | (#44292797)

Say hi to Trixia for me :-)

Same Yahoo? (5, Informative)

SJ (13711) | about a year ago | (#44292131)

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

Seems like a convenient PR stunt to me.

Re:Same Yahoo? (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Same Yahoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44294107)

This. I really would like some Yahoo insider to spill the beans on the corporate politics after the China screwup.

Re:Same Yahoo? (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | about a year ago | (#44297515)

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.


Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292143)

" a secret fight for user privacy" is BULL SHIT !

Yahoo's Legal Dept. would only go after 'something like this' if their CEO + CFO + Board Members' private e-mails + Skype + Outlooks et al. were compromised and nothing else.

NO Publicity? So EFF is doing this out the golden goodness of their collective heart? FUCK NO.

Fuck Yahoo and Fuck Yahoo's new 'errand boy' the immaculate conception EFF.

My Email host has my back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292151)

They're not based in America and don't have a USA subsidiary and if they hand data to NSA they can be put in jail behind bars.

I'm sorry and all, but get real here, Yahoo appealed to the Kangaroo Court, and lost, it appealed to the Superior Skippy Court and lost. It could appeal to the Supreme Court if the law is changed to permit it, and it would still lose, judges like Antonin Scalia? The 'torture isn't punishment therefore it's not cruel and unusual punishment' judge? Lots of right wing nutters put there for their extreme pro-military thinking. No doubt with the help of a leak or two from the NSA against their competitors.

You are the only one that can protect your privacy at this point, and that means encrypting traffic, using non-US hosting, https everywhere, Jabber or Jitsi with encryption everywhere. SSH everywhere, SFTP, never FTP. Ditch the major US cloud providers, yep, sorry Yahoo, you tried, you failed, I'd play a violin, but I'm busy picking up the privacy pieces. Don't buy kit with backdoors, no HP kit. Move away from the worst offenders, PRISM timeline says Microsoft is the worst. Skype? Ditch it now. Facebook? Well consider all private walls as extra interesting to the NSA, because you must have something to hide. Buying a sex toy? Pay cash.

Never Forget (5, Informative)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#44292199) []
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.
" []
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.
" []
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- []

The real cost of this BS... (2)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year ago | (#44292243)

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.

Oddly enough Yahoo! sells user data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292273)

A friend of mine worked for a company focusing on teen/tween culture. When I asked him how they generate their original user base/mail list. He bluntly told me they had a "marketing partnership" with Yahoo!

Re:Oddly enough Yahoo! sells user data (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292911)

That's been going on for 50-60 years or longer. That subscription to Reader's Digest your mother had when you were four? They were selling their list to Good Housekeeping. Remember: Things aren't automatically new and scary just because they're on the internet.

Secret laws, courts and notices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292445)

how pathetic and weak.

A distinction without a difference, apparently (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44292499)

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 [] .

Such dull dishwater (2)

musth (901919) | about a year ago | (#44292509)

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.

Go Marissa! (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#44292649)

you can fight for my rights anytime~~

Re:Go Marissa! (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about a year ago | (#44293069)

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.

Re:Go Marissa! (1)

crashcy (2839507) | about a year ago | (#44295759)

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.

Is it really so wrong provide infp on terrorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44292761)

I know the slashdot crowd really has their pantys in a twist about this, but honestly is it really so terrible to turn over info about a few people that a court has determined to have communicated with overseas terrorists?

I think it's a reasonable thing to do provided it is not blanket access and is only for a few court reviewed and ordered cases per year.
I think the loss of privacy is really quite minor compared to daily assults to privacy we face from commercial interests, and the benefits are far greater, I really like not being blown up.

Re:Is it really so wrong provide infp on terrorist (5, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#44293095)

It is when said court is *secret*, the laws used by the court are *secret*, the verdicts reached by the courts are *secret*, and the punishments and actions encted by that court are *secret*.

To better understand, let's use an argumentum ad absurdium:

The secret court decided that anyone who wears blue, of any shade, is a terror suspect, because of intelligence that cells of terrorists are identifying each other based on wearing blue clothing. They keep this pronouncement in the strictest of confidences, lest the terrorists find out, and switch to earing pink.

Blue jeans are absurdly popular as casual wear in the USA. As such, "wearing blue" makes basically everyone into a terror suspect. Due dilligence requires the intelligene agencies, and secret intelligence courts to investigate and authorize said investigation, of basically everyone. False positives happen. It's life.

Robert Anyman, who lives at 421 maple street, gets unceremoniously arrested, by a secret court order, issued by the secret court, by secret police. He is prevented from exercising his right to counsel of his choosing, because the law he is being charged under is secret, and ordinary lawyers are not alowed to know such laws even exist, let alone what they say!

In the end, since nobody is allowed to check and impose oversight on this secret legal system, that legal system, and its enforcers, can do anything and arrest anyone they want, for any reason. They don't have to explain their actions, under grounds of national security.

That is why this is a very bad thing, and you should not buy into the sob story they are spinning about catching terrorists.

A possible, bold, new direction (4, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about a year ago | (#44293239)

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.

Re:A possible, bold, new direction (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#44294583)

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 with public key encryption. They've done it with the OpenPGP addon for Thunderbird, after all.

Re:A possible, bold, new direction (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#44294601)

In response to my own comment, this already (kind of) exists.

Mailvelope [] addon for Firefox and Chrome

Re:A possible, bold, new direction (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44296949)

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.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44293243)

If your technology doesn't protect you laws won't. So forget Yahoo, Google, Bing, Facebook etc... Start by downloading tor and using a search engine like or (decentralized). For email ditch existing services and use with a service that supports it. For torrents use I2P . Don't use Windows or OS X or IOS or Android etc... Switch to free (as in freedom) software like Debian.

I feel so stupid for not listening to Richard Stallman in the first place.

PS: Pay cash

Small wonder. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#44294223)

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

Best way to fight privacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44294289)

Seems to me that the reason that government wants data is to gain hold over everything and everyone, and to use those insights into gaining a more competitive position for the country, maintaining its own power, and serve specific well-connected interests.

The solution to this: Share absolutely everything. Make sure each and every person has access to every piece of data. The only reason data has unbalanced power is that we want to keep it hidden. So if you're cheating on your wife and want to encrypt your emails to your gay fundamentalist christian pastor... tough mantitties.

Transparancy is the light of equality.

good fight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44294373)

if they really were going to put up a good fight they would have said fuck it and brought the whole thing public years ago. this is all bullshit pr. yahoo does not deserve a cookie.

Trust know one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44304077)

enough of this race baiting by a Government manipulated New's Media. It's all most like they are trying to start Civil Unrest.

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