Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer publicly defends decision to comply with NSA

Technological talent or traitor? You decide.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has publicly defended her decision to hand data over to the NSA as she feared possible prison time for treason.   

During an onstage interview at TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, the comments came after she was asked which actions Yahoo! are taking to protect users from a “tyrannical government”.

Mayer says the company normally scrutinizes requests and documents signed and sealed from the NSA. However, she claims they were under increasing pressure from the NSA to comply or risk being labeled a traitor.         

The CEO insists government court orders disallow them to disclose anything about them, or even their existence.

"We can't talk about it because it is classified. Releasing classified information is treason, and you are incarcerated. In terms of protecting our users, it makes more sense to work within the system."

As we reported yesterday, major companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo! are pressuring the NSA to allow the firms to disclose more information.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who was at the TechCrunch conference, says the government "blew it" when it was revealed the NSA sifted through phone records of Americans with no ties to terrorists. The former Havard student is at the forefront of the lobbying citing it is the “government's job to protect all of us and our freedoms.” 

While Mayer's decision was a setback in the fight for greater internet security and freedoms, hopefully the loosely formed alliance between the powerhouse companies could be the beginning of a much greater push for transparency of the NSA’s actions.

Source: Indian Express | Image: Financial Post

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35 Comments

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If we don't have privacy from the government poking it's nose in OUR business we have NOTHING!This needs to STOP!We are PAYING for this....Wake up.....

All business are pretty stuck, if they are given a court order to hand over ANY information then they have to or they will go to prison, same if they break any NDA. I don't think bill gates himself would get away with it. How many people here would chose to go to prison to stand up for what they believe is right/wrong??

She is an idiot. The real treason is that she allowed complicit activity in breach of the constitution. Way to go lady, we to use fake reasons to justify you being caught.

Bu- but I'd be committing treason.. you already did you dolt

chrisj1968 said,
She is an idiot. The real treason is that she allowed complicit activity in breach of the constitution. Way to go lady, we to use fake reasons to justify you being caught.

Bu- but I'd be committing treason.. you already did you dolt

I'm curious. If what she says is true, what would you do in that situation?

unless the NSA starts approaching individuals requesting information they already have access to, your wish will go unattained.

Poor excuse.

Your telling me that if Mayer, Gates, Zuckerberg, Page etc. told the NSA were to go, the US government would come calling and arrest them all for treason in front of the public and the world?

That would not go down well with people in the US and rest of the world. The government would be called out and all hell would break loose. That would pretty much be the end of the NSA right there.

A pretty pathetic stance from these companies and people. They should take a stand and stop fearing the government. Together they could end all this nonsense or severely curb it in the right direction.


WooHoo!!! said,
A pretty pathetic stance from these companies and people. They should take a stand and stop fearing the government. Together they could end all this nonsense or severely curb it in the right direction.

Not that I agree with what's going on (I don't), but it's very easy to say something like that when it's not your head in the noose. Refusing to comply with a court order has pretty bad consequences, especially when "national security" and "treason" are thrown into the mix. I'd bet that 99% of people when faced with a choice of being a martyr and going to prison for treason (never mind potentially destroying their company and putting thousands of people out of work) or complying and staying under the radar is going to pick the obvious choice. As a CEO she's first and foremost responsible for the well being of her company, shareholders and employees.. throwing yourself on your sword for what you believe in is the obvious moral choice, but suicide for a company.

WooHoo!!! said,
Poor excuse.

Your telling me that if Mayer, Gates, Zuckerberg, Page etc. told the NSA were to go, the US government would come calling and arrest them all for treason in front of the public and the world?

That would not go down well with people in the US and rest of the world. The government would be called out and all hell would break loose. That would pretty much be the end of the NSA right there.

A pretty pathetic stance from these companies and people. They should take a stand and stop fearing the government. Together they could end all this nonsense or severely curb it in the right direction.

Exactly. However, people seem to forget that there is most likely more at work behind the scenes than we realize. I'm sure there have been lots of promises made and back scratching to sweeten the deal for all these tech companies. They have all been in bed together for a very long time.

Max Norris said,

Not that I agree with what's going on (I don't), but it's very easy to say something like that when it's not your head in the noose. Refusing to comply with a court order has pretty bad consequences, especially when "national security" and "treason" are thrown into the mix. I'd bet that 99% of people when faced with a choice of being a martyr and going to prison for treason (never mind potentially destroying their company and putting thousands of people out of work) or complying and staying under the radar is going to pick the obvious choice. As a CEO she's first and foremost responsible for the well being of her company, shareholders and employees.. throwing yourself on your sword for what you believe in is the obvious moral choice, but suicide for a company.
For a single company maybe. His point was, if they all stood up against the Government, what is he Government going to do. They aren't going to go after all these people and if they did, what he is saying we all as a country would rise up. If it was my company I would have told the NSA to shove it up their arse. And since I have the money and the means to protect my company, there will be consequences for any of them to step foot on my property or my company's property.

The reasons the government gets away with **** is because no one stands up for ****. Either you stand up for something or you will fall for anything. That is why Snowden is awesome. He new the risk he accepted it and he let the world know what was up. With such info he had, there is no way no one would have granted him asylum.

She's eroding users trust. It will continue until a non US competing company rises and surpasses them.

I could be very wrong, but I'll bet you there's something like, (or maybe even worse than,) PRISM in plenty of other, "first world," countries that we just don't know about, & I'll bet you if programs like it exist elsewhere, companies based in said countries will comply with them just like companies in America complied with PRISM.

Again, I could be wrong, but I personally believe it to be a strong possibility.

Doesn't make any difference what this Yahoo twit says. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, americans and their companies cannot be trusted. Period. That's not going to change anytime soon. Get used to it.
What those companies should have done - all of them - is ignore these rules that make them screw over their customers, regardless of the consequences.

After reading this now I kinda want one of these CEOs to be tried for treason for disclosing those numbers or whatever. It would hurt the govmt a lot more than it would hurt the company. #onefortheteam

Julius Caro said,
After reading this now I kinda want one of these CEOs to be tried for treason for disclosing those numbers or whatever. It would hurt the govmt a lot more than it would hurt the company. #onefortheteam


The government would not go with a public accusation of treason or other similar accusations.
They would ostracize the company, unleash the IRS, things like these.

Xexo said,
Land of the free ! Not so much.

Oh it is still the land of the free, but you just have to pay for it. Who said freedom is free anyways.

RommelS said,

Oh it is still the land of the free, but you just have to pay for it. Who said freedom is free anyways.


Illuded to be free....

I like to support dying companies but this time after this whole debacle, Yahoo!!! is finally over for me. Go to hell from my side...

"Releasing classified information is treason"

Bzzt. Wrong. Perhaps you'd like a dictionary? How about 30 of them so you can pick a crap one?

Can I have your autograph? I have never met a single person in my life that hasn't misspoke. There was a press release to clarify what she meant. Stop pretending your perfect.

Whether she used the word incorrectly or not, they sure are ****ed at Snowden for releasing classified docs. She's protecting herself and her company, so can't fault her for it.