Following missives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple over the past 72 hours, Yahoo issued its own disclosure statement last night about law-enforcement data requests. Signed by CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell, the statement said that there had been “between 12,000 and 13,000″ data requests during the past six months:
We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it.
To that end, we are disclosing the total number of requests for user data that law enforcement agencies in the U.S. made to us between December 1, 2012 and 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.
Like all companies, Yahoo! cannot lawfully break out FISA request numbers at this time because those numbers are classified; however, we strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue.
Democracy demands accountability. Recognizing the important role that Yahoo! can play in ensuring accountability, we will issue later this summer our first global law enforcement transparency report, which will cover the first half of the year. We will refresh this report with current statistics twice a year.
As always, we will continually evaluate whether further actions can be taken to protect the privacy of our users and our ability to defend it. We appreciate—and do not take for granted—the trust you place in us.
The company also said that later this summer it will start issuing its own “law enforcement transparency report.” After seeing a number of these law enforcement data disclosures I now agree with Google and Twitter that it’s important to segregate the various categories of requests so that we can see how many are coming from the US as opposed to ordinary local law enforcement.