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Yahoo CEO fears defying NSA could mean prison

By Glenn Chapman

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer said she feared winding up in prison for treason if she refused to comply with US spy demands for data. Her comments came after being asked what she is doing to protect Yahoo users from “tyrannical government” during an on-stage interview at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Mayer said Yahoo scrutinizes and fights US government data requests stamped with the authority of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but when the company losses battles it must do as directed or risk being branded a traitor. Data requests authorized by the court come with an order barring anyone at the company receiving the request from disclosing anything about them, even their existence.

“If you don’t comply, it is treason,” Mayer said when asked why she couldn’t just spill details of requests by US spy agencies for information about Yahoo users. “We can’t talk about it because it is classified,” she continued. “Releasing classified information is treason, and you are incarcerated. In terms of protecting our users, it makes more sense to work within the system.”

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