The Justice Department will declassify a 2008 decision in which the country’s secret spy court rebuffed Yahoo’s attempt to challenge a controversial surveillance program.
In a rare public filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (embedded below), the Justice Department said it will declassify the decision by September 12, and that it will publish other documents related to the case on a rolling basis after that.
The Justice Department’s filing comes after the secret court agreed earlier this month to publish the decision following leaks to the New York Times that revealed Yahoo had fought the PRISM program five years ago.
Under PRISM, tech companies like Yahoo and Google were forced to set up electronic drop-boxes that allow the National Security Agency to monitor email communications in real time. Although the NSA is supposed to target non-Americans, U.S. citizens are pulled into its dragnet when the NSA suspects they are communicating with someone outside the country.
The Yahoo case is one of the few glimpses into the program and into the court that oversees it. Under the secret court’s rules, the judges themselves decide whether or not to publish a decision and the companies that appear before it are forbidden from revealing that a proceeding is taking place in the first place.
In the rare cases where the spy court agrees to publish a decision, the case must first go to the White House to be declassified. In the Yahoo case, the court asked the government to provide a schedule as to when the documents would be declassified. Today’s filing is a response to that. You can read it yourself below: