Congress: NSA Requests? Yahoo: No Comment

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During the Congressional smackdown on search engine companies over their business practices in China, one Congressman raised the issue of surveillance with Yahoo.

Can the National Security Agency request and receive user information from Yahoo without a court order? CNet reported on the exchange that took place between Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Yahoo’s top lawyer, Michael Callahan.

The outcome of the exchange was “no comment,” asserted by Callahan in response to Sherman’s questioning as he tried to tie in the NSA’s anti-terrorism surveillance work for the Bush Administration with the questioning about the business practices of Yahoo and its search competitors when operating on Chinese soil.

While Callahan did say Yahoo would turn over information if the law required it, Sherman wanted to know if a request from NSA, without a court order, would be honored.

The lawyer turned Congressman and the lawyer from Yahoo fenced on the subject. One part of the exchange will stand out for many observers:

Sherman: The attorney general says the executive branch, without any OK from either of the other two branches, has the right to read everything you have in your files about me. You might very well agree?

Callahan: It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment.

Sherman had asked if Yahoo’s compliance with the law included providing information to NSA with a court order or just a letter from the agency, to which Callahan said he wouldn’t be able to comment.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Congress: NSA Requests? Yahoo: No Comment
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