Federal officials compelled American tech companies to either participate in the NSA's PRISM program or face huge fines.
Just released court documents show that even though company executives at Yahoo believed the requirement to provide access to records of users' chats, emails and search histories was unconstitutional and challenged the U.S. government order, the tech giant began contributing to the NSA's data sweep in March 2008.
It otherwise faced penalties of $250,000 per day for not complying. A ruling by FISCR, a so-called "secret" federal court solely charged with reviewing applications for electronic surveillance warrants, amended Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which set the precedent to persuade Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple to all participate in PRISM. Segments of the court documents remain classified, even to Yahoo's legal team. In a statement from Yahoo's counsel released on Thursday, the company vowed to continue to fight for "public safety."