On June 11, Google made public a letter it sent to the Attorney General and the FBI requesting permission to include FISA and similar data requests in it Transparency Report. A couple days later, Facebook and Microsoft revealed aggregated government data request numbers, followed soon after by other companies. Now Yahoo! has revealed its own numbers.
The numbers were revealed on Tumblr by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Yahoo!’s General Counsel Ron Bell. The announcement starts out with a statement that the company has worked hard to earn its users’ trust, and as such it does not want to jeopardize that trust, something that has resulted since PRISM was detailed by the media and soon expanded on by a variety of sources.
Like other companies, Yahoo! is not allowed to detail the specific number of requests it has received, nor is it allowed to zero in on any sort of range for FISA requests in particular. It can, however, reveal an aggregated range of total law enforcement data requests, which it says include FISA requests, as well as other requests.
The data range spans from December 1 of 2012 through May 31 of 2013, a six-month period similar to the timeline specified by other companies that have revealed their numbers. Within that time range, Yahoo! says it received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests from law enforcement, and that among those requests, homicide, fraud, kidnappings, and or criminal investigations were the most common reason.
Yahoo! says that it is pressing the government to change its stance on allowing companies to publish their FISA request numbers, saying that “democracy demands accountability.” Following this, Yahoo! says later this summer it will publish its first Global Law Enforcement Transparency Report, which will detail numbers from the first half of 2013, updating with new data two times a year.