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Yowza! Yahoo once faced $250K in daily fines from US government

Declassified documents related to Yahoo's challenge of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion are now out. But the company doesn't see it as an all-out victory.

Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said the release of documents is "an important win for transparency," CNET

Yahoo previously petitioned to have a slew of secret files unsealed more than a year ago, and the findings lean toward the technology company's favor as far as the public eye might be concerned.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, D.C., has released more than 1,500 of previously classified pages, including a never-before-seen 2008 FISC opinion that Yahoo challenged on appeal.

The most astounding point of interest, as emphasized by Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell in a blog post on Thursday, was that the U.S. government threatened to levy $250,000 in fines per day if Yahoo refused to comply to demands for user information from its online services.

In June 2013, it was revealed Yahoo was one of the nine Silicon Valley giants tapped by NSA's secret data-mining program Prism, which came to light through documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

Many of the tech giants (notably Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) have publicly denounced the Prism program, but Yahoo took things a step further by petitioning the FISC to declassify documents from these cases in 2008.

According to the San Jose Mercury News last summer, Yahoo argued those files would reveal that the technology company "objected strenuously" to federal demands for consumer data, thus demonstrating its interest in defending user privacy above all else.

The FISC granted the motion in the search giant's favor, but Yahoo didn't score an all-out victory because, as Bell lamented, "portions of the documents remain sealed and classified to this day, unknown even to our team."

Nevertheless, Bell still touted the turn of events as "an important win for transparency," promising it will make all of the 1,500 pages available to the public via Tumblr soon.

"A decision to open FISC or FISC-R records to the public is extremely rare," Bell wrote. "Now that the FISC-R has agreed to unseal the proceedings at our request, we are working to make these documents available."

This story originally appeared as "Yahoo says U.S. gov't threatened $250K in daily fines over data requests in 2008" on ZDNet.