Government Requests for Yahoo Data Down Slightly

Yahoo published its third Transparency Report, which reveals that it fielded fewer requests for user data than the previous reporting period, and that it also received between 0-999 National Security Letters.

There was less clamor from governments and law enforcement around the world for data collected and stored by Yahoo, but nonetheless, the technology giant still fielded more than 18,000 data requests over the first six months of the year.

Yahoo yesterday released its third Transparency Report, and the numbers show almost 3,000 fewer requests than the previous reporting period. The company also reported that it received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters. It could not report on FISA requests for disclosure of content or non-content data because of a government-imposed six month reporting delay.

Yahoo reported 6,791 U.S. government requests for data on 12,533 accounts. In more than 4,200 instances (62 percent of requests), Yahoo complied and handed over non-content data, 1,396 or 21 percent of the time, complied with requests to disclose user data. Non-content data, Yahoo said, includes subscriber information such as name, location, IP address, billing information and other data.

In occasions where no data was handed over, Yahoo said there was either a problem with the government data request, or the data no longer existed.

Yahoo said it follows three principles when reviewing government requests for data and content removal, including taking steps to minimize disclosure, in addition to protecting user privacy and maintaining accountability and transparency.

“We minimize disclosure of user data by applying the narrowest possible interpretation to government requests,” Yahoo said in its report.

This is Yahoo’s third Transparency Report. Its first was published last September and revealed more than 12,000 requests for user data during the first half of 2013.

Transparency reports have become an industry norm since the Snowden leaks began in June 2013 as technology companies try to distance themselves from the appearance of complicity with the government’s surveillance efforts.

Yahoo, along with Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other major tech firms, have lobbied for additional transparency around National Security Letters.

In addition, Yahoo has thrown its support behind legislation such as the USA FREEDOM Act, seeking surveillance reform that would prevent the bulk collection of Internet metadata.

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