Yahoo received as many as 13,000 user data requests

Faith Merino · June 18, 2013 · Short URL:

Of the companies that have revealed their user data requests so far, Yahoo has had the most

Over the weekend, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple all revealed the number of government requests for data between December 2012 and May 2013. Now Yahoo is joining in on the fun, announcing late Monday night that it has received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for data under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) and other types of investigations. So far, that’s more requests than any of the other PRISM companies have received (those who have disclosed the numbers, anyway).

Yahoo did not say how many accounts have been affected, but Apple and Facebook revealed that their requests for data averaged two accounts per request, so it’s likely that at least 24,000 Yahoo accounts have been affected.

But that’s just over the five months spanning December to May. Yahoo was one of the first companies to begin participating in the PRISM program back in March 2008, a year after Microsoft.

Of course, that’s through no fault of its own. In fact, Yahoo fought the requests for data some time after receiving its first requests in 2007, arguing that they were too broad and required a probable-cause warrant, otherwise they would be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Yahoo argued that without a warrant, the requests placed the discretion for data collection “entirely in the hands of the Executive Branch without prior judicial involvement," consequently giving the government “overly broad power that invites abuse.”

The FISA Court of Review said no dice, and Yahoo was ordered to comply with the requests.

In Monday’s statement, Yahoo didn’t specify what types of data were collected. Addressing the NSA surveillance program two weeks ago, President Obama insisted that Internet and email surveillance was reserved for those outside of the U.S., so it’s unlikely that Yahoo Mail was tapped. Yahoo could not be reached for comment to provide more information.

Additionally, Yahoo could not identify how many of its requests for data have come under FISA.

“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,” the company said.

Yahoo will issue its first global law enforcement transparency report later this summer, which will cover the first half of the year. Yahoo says it will refresh the report with current statistics twice a year.

Apple revealed late Sunday night that it has received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests for user data between December and May, affecting 9,000 to 10,000 accounts. Prior to that, Facebook revealed that it’s received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests, and Microsoft has received between 6,000 and 7,000 requests.  

Google has not yet disclosed how many requests it’s received as it’s fighting to be able to specify which requests were FISA requests. 


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