Yahoo Joins the Disclosure Clan with First Transparency Report

The volume of requests is notably low per capita: the total number of accounts specified in these government data requests during the reporting period comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent (<.01%) of the half-billion Yahoo users worldwide.

“At Yahoo, we take the privacy of our users seriously,” said Ron Bell, general counsel at Yahoo, in a blog.
“We also recognize our role as a global company in promoting freedom of expression wherever we do business.”

Yahoo breaks the statistics down by country, under which each report shows how it processed the government data requests it received during the period. National security requests are included within the scope of the aggregate statistics.

The US, where Yahoo is the fourth most-popular website, led the way in terms of the number of requests, with 12,444 requests made affecting 40,322 separate users. A total of 241 of those were rejected.

Germany was a distant second, responsible for 4,295 requests affecting 5,306 user accounts. Italy comes in third, asking for information on 2,937 users. Taiwan, France, the UK and India comprised a middle group that made between 1,000 and 2,000 requests each.

“Democracy demands accountability, and accountability requires transparency,” Bell said. “We hope our report encourages governments around the world to more openly share information about the requests they make for users’ information.”

Yahoo plans to update the transparency report every six months.

In a nod to recent headlines around Operation PRISM and NSA surveillance, Yahoo and other tech giants have been stepping up their efforts to gain trust, as Infosecurity previously reported. For its part, Yahoo specifically pointed out that it “has joined no program to volunteer user data to governments.” It also highlighted its two-year legal challenge to the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the fact that it recently won a motion requiring the US to consider further declassifying court documents from that case.

Bell added, “Our legal department demands that government data requests be made through lawful means and for lawful purposes. We regularly push back against improper requests for user data, including fighting requests that are unclear, improper, overbroad or unlawful.”

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