Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) is the latest company to come forward with reports of government inquires for user data, just two weeks after news surfaced of the secret NSA program called PRISM that has tapped into the servers of several Internet companies to collect and monitor user data.
CEO Marissa Mayer and Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell released a statement Monday in a blog titled "Our Commitment to Our Users' Privacy," detailing that the Web portal company has received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for user data from U.S. law enforcement agencies over the last six months, from Dec. 1, 2012, to May 31, 2013. According to Yahoo, most of the inquires involved criminal investigations including “fraud, homicides, kidnappings,” but the Sunnyvale, Calif., company said it could not divulge how many inquiries for user data were under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as they are classified.
Yahoo is among many tech and telecom companies that have denied involvement in the PRISM program, under which the federal government used FISA to collect user data, including metadata from the mobile network Verizon. Other companies have also come forward to reveal stats about the government requests they have received; however, they insist that they cannot distinguish between law enforcement requests and requests from agencies like the NSA.
Apple recently reported that it has received between 4,000 and 5,000 government requests for customer data with said requests pertaining to between 9,000 and 10,000 user accounts. Similarly, Facebook announced that it received between 9,000 and 10,000 inquires pertaining to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, while Microsoft admits to receiving 6,000 and 7,000 inquires of a criminal or security nature pertaining to approximately 32,000 customer accounts.
In an effort to keep the public aware, Yahoo says it plans to issue its first "global law enforcement transparency report" later this summer, which will then be updated 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,” Mayer and Bell said in a statement. “We appreciate—and do not take for granted—the trust you place in us.”
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Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.