Justice Dept. seeks delay in NSA surveillance case, citing gov't shutdown

Summary:Yahoo may have to wait a little longer to fight its case in a secret Washington court, as the U.S. Justice Department struggles to find attorneys amid the government shutdown.

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Yahoo is fighting the U.S. government in respect to its vast surveillance operations, which the Web giant was implicated in. Image: CNET

The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking a delay in a case involving, citing the government shutdown.

First reported by the Associated Press, the Justice Dept. has submitted a new filing to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in order to delay a case, in which the government must disclose more about its mass surveillance operations.

In the filing, the Justice Dept. says its attorneys are not allowed to work until the government shutdown is over.

The case, despite the public anger, is not considered urgent, such as an immediate loss of human life or for the protection of property.

Yahoo is trying to prove that it was forced to disclose user and customer data to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and that it was not acting voluntarily or in collusion with the intelligence agency as initial reports suggested .

Many technology companies were implicated in the wake of the leaks, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who first blew the lid on the PRISM and Upstream programs.

Meanwhile, Yahoo, and a number of technology major companies, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, have  filed separate motions to the FISC  in order to disclose how many requests they receive for user data. 

Tech companies are allowed to disclose aggregate data in a numerical range, following a deal with the U.S. government last year, but they are barred from disclosing final, complete figures.

The bevy of cases brought by the Silicon Valley titans against the U.S. government hopes to change that.

Yahoo said in a FISA court filing, dated September 30, it was concerned that any redactions made by the federal government are "well founded," so that they could not be misinterpreted or against the company's favor, in which it continues to push for transparency.

Specifically, the Web giant said it did not wish the government to, "unintentionally create a risk that the documents will be misunderstood." 

Topics: Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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