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Yahoo! Says Government Data Requests Slowed in 2014

Yahoo!  has released its latest biannual transparency report, showing that government and law enforcement requests for information totaled about 18,000 for the first half of the year—down slightly from six months ago.

Considering that more than 800 million people globally visit Yahoo for email, photo-sharing, news and sports, it’s not a large percentage. The numbers, which didn’t include FISA request information (thanks to government regulation), were 3,000 fewer than the last half of 2013—but 6,000 more than the year-ago period.

It also said that it received between 0 and 999 National Security Letters requesting information (again, government regulations prevent the company from disclosing exact figures).

“Like other technology companies, we regularly receive requests from governments around the world to disclose certain user data or remove content. Yahoo said in its report. “We minimize disclosure of user data by applying the narrowest possible interpretation to government requests.”

In the US, the tech giant fielded 6,791 government requests for data on 12,533 accounts—and it rejected just 382 of them. It complied with 62% of incidents (4,200) by handing over name, location, IP address and billing information. For 1,396 or 21% of the requests, it surrendered content data, which is defined as data that users create, communicate and store on or through Yahoo! services. This could include content in a mail or instant message, photos on Flickr, files uploaded, Yahoo Address Book entries, Yahoo Calendar event details, thoughts recorded in Yahoo Notepad or comments or posts on Yahoo Answers or any other Yahoo property.

Google recently issued its latest transparency report as well, showing that requests were up, not down.

In the first half of 2014, it received approximately 32,000 data requests (non-FISA related) for user information from Gmail, YouTube and other popular services from around the world, which is 15% more than the latter half of 2013, and 150% more than the company received when it started publishing transparency reports in 2009. In the US, those increases are 19% and 250%, respectively.

Google said that it complied with data requests to at least some extent in 65% of the cases.

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