Yahoo has joined the ranks of Internet technology companies demonstrating their commitment to openness – and trying to rebuild trust with their users – with its own revelation of data requests received from law enforcement agencies.
Yahoo announced the numbers in a Tumblr blog from CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell, citing figures from December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013.
During that time period, we received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests, inclusive of criminal, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and other requests. The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations.
The FISA requests are presumably tied to the leaked program known only as PRISM, alleged to be the NSA’s secret access to major Internet companies’ data stores in the intelligence agency’s hunt for terrorists.
Since information on PRISM was leaked by Booz Allen technician Edward Snowden earlier this month, the companies implicated in the leaked material have made a point to disclose what they can about requests for information, while asking to go farther and be allowed to separate the FISA request figures from the other law enforcement requests.
The implication is that FISA requests are much fewer in number than standard law enforcement requests, which would thus let companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo release some of the intense scrutiny they have been under since Prism was first detailed. But, until they are permitted to make such distinctions, it seems that these public transparency reports will have to do.