The US government threatened the search engine Yahoo with a huge daily fine if it did not turn over emails to spooks.
In 2008, the U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications. At the time the company believed the threat was unconstitutional, but the US continued to insist that American tech companies participate in the National Security Agency’s PRISM program.
The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands which was fought in court hearings held behind closed doors.
The US government required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, and give the NSA extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms. Microsoft had already signed up.
According to the Washington Post the case was settled by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review which forced Yahoo to do what it was told. The ruling became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound.