Court sides with Yahoo in data collection case

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Yahoo has won a court fight that could help the public learn more about the government's efforts to obtain data from Internet users.

The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews government requests to spy on individuals, ruled Monday that information should be made public about a 2008 case that ordered Yahoo Inc. to turn over customer data.

The order requires the government to review which portions of the opinion, briefs and arguments can be declassified and report back to the court by July 29.

The government sought the information from Yahoo under the National Security Agency's PRISM data-gathering program. Details of the secret program were disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has fled the U.S.

The program came to light in early June after The Washington Post and Guardian newspapers published documents provided by Snowden. It allows the NSA to reach into the data streams of U.S. companies such as Yahoo, Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and others, and grab emails, video chats, pictures and more. U.S. officials have said the program is narrowly focused on foreign targets, and technology companies say they turn over information only if required by court order.

Yahoo requested in court papers filed June 14 to have the information about the 2008 case unsealed. A Yahoo spokeswoman hailed Monday's decision and said the company believes it will help inform public discussion about the U.S. government's surveillance programs.

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