Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) released its first transparency report, detailing which countries' governments' asked Yahoo to turn over user data to the federal government. The requests were made between Jan. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013. In the United States, there were 12,444 data requests made over the course of the reporting period.
According to Yahoo, of all the data requests made by the United States government, the company rejected 241 requests and provided data on more than 11,000 requests. There were 801 requests where no data was found. As reported on Yahoo’s blog, “The numbers reported above include all types of government data requests such as criminal law enforcement requests and those under U.S. national security authorities, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and National Security Letters (NSLs), if any were received.”
Like other companies that have released transparency reports, Yahoo cannot disclose which government agencies requested data. Google, Facebook and Microsoft have previously released transparency reports, and this is the first time Yahoo has provided information on data requests from governments from around the world.
Of the data requests where Yahoo provided information to the government, 6,798 were non-content data (NCD) disclosures. According to Yahoo, an NCD includes a user’s “basic subscriber information including the information captured at the time of registration, such as an alternate e-mail address, name, location, and IP address, login details, billing information, and other transactional information.” The other information includes content from emails, including the date and the person who sent the email and the email’s intended recipient but does not include the text of the email.
Yahoo reports it provided content data on 4,604 requests. According to Yahoo, content is “data that our users create, communicate, and store on or through our services.” The content given to the government includes email and chats, from Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger, Flickr photos, Yahoo Calendar data, Yahoo Address entries and any other comments or posts on Yahoo properties, such as Yahoo Answers. It is unclear if the transparency report includes Tumblr data; Yahoo acquired Tumblr on June 20, but the company’s next transparency report, released every six months, may include data requests from the popular site.
According to the other transparency reports released by Yahoo, the United States government had the most requests for data. Germany had the second highest number of requests at 4,295, followed by Taiwan (1,942) and the United Kingdom (1,709).
Yahoo commented about its ability to share information on it transparency reports, claiming the United States government does not allow the company to disclose how many NSLs it received. According to Yahoo, “We strenuously disagree with the government's position and will continue to advocate for greater transparency regarding requests made under national security authorities. If we succeed in persuading the U.S. Government to allow greater transparency, we will disclose additional details in future reports, and we will also update this report with more details related to national security requests as permitted.”