Digital rights lobby group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has given web provider Yahoo! a special recognition for standing up against official pressure to give up user data, and challenging secret court orders.
The EFF said six years ago Yahoo! was ordered to produce user data by the United States government. Instead of accepting the request, Yahoo! challenged the order in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
After the order was upheld by the FISC, Yahoo! appealed to a three-judge appellate court that was established to review decisions by the former. The web provider lost and had to turn over the data.
The case had until recently been a secret due to current US disclosure rules. Yesterday, Yahoo! won a small victory in its battle for transparency, after a FISC judge directed the US government to conduct a declassification review of the 2008 memorandum opinion and legal briefs submitted to it, by July 29 this year.
The court memorandum opinion is expected to be published after the review, with "properly classified information" redacted.
Full text of the FISC order for declassification review.
EFF said Yahoo! went in to bat for its users because it was the right thing to do, and the fight for privacy should serve as the "gold standard" for other companies in the same position.
Yahoo! has between three to four million users in Australia and New Zealand.
Other internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have been implicated as being participants in the US PRISM spying program, the existence of which was revealed by former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden.
The companies are currently petitioning the US government to be able to release information on how they have cooperated with requests to release user data, something they are currently prevented from doing and which they say is hurting their reputation with customers.