Yahoo CEO (YHOO) Marissa Mayer pushed back against criticism the company has received for allowing the NSA to look into users’ email records by saying that executives faced jail if they revealed government secrets.
Mayer was asked at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco why Yahoo and others involved in the NSA spying program did not release information to the public about the surveillance.
“Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she responded.
Yahoo and Facebook (FB), along with other tech firms, are pushing for the right to be allowed to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. Companies are forbidden by law to disclose how much data they provide.
Yahoo has previously unsuccessfully sued the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which provides the legal framework for NSA surveillance. In 2007 it asked to be allowed to publish details of requests it receives from the spy agency. “When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason,” said Mayer. “We think it make more sense to work within the system,” she said.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg also fought back and defended Facebook’s actions, telling the audience that the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect.
“Frankly I think the government blew it,” he said.