Have you heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation? The EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit forum of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technology experts who fights for freedom in the courts when the digital freedoms of the public come under attack.
In addition to battling bad legislation the EFF gives an annual award to companies that help protect your data from the government.
This year, it awarded Yahoo a Gold Star for fighting for user privacy rights in courts. In other words, the EFF recognizes Yahoo as a company which has your back. In fact, Yahoo has assiduously fought a silent battle for user privacy in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for over five years. And this move wasn’t coerced from anyone; Yahoo decided to protect user privacy simply because it was the right thing to do.
Six years ago in 2007, Yahoo received an injunction under the Protect America Act of 2007 to produce user data to the government. The Protect America Act is a long, abstruse document, that basically removed the warrant requirement for government surveillance of foreign intelligence targets who are reasonably believed to be outside of the US.
Can anyone say controversial?
Yes, but the cool thing is that Yahoo didn’t mindlessly cough up your private data even though the government demanded it. Yahoo actually challenged the legality of the order and stuck to what it velieved in.
However, nothing comes easy and Yahoo encountered a great deal of resistance from the FISC.
But did Yahoo capitulate and just throw in the towel? No, in fact, it appealed the FISCs decision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Ultimately, this appellate court ruled against Yahoo declaring that the Protect America Act is constitutional and therefore; Yahoo had turn over the data.
But my point is that Yahoo puts user privacy on a pedestal and really cares about your personal information.
It’s becoming increasingly rare to find companies that hold to such values. As more companies accede to the demands of the government it’s nice to know there’s one fighting for your security.
You can get all the details of the EFF award in its official 20 page report.