updated 01:58 pm EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Company highlights its FISA challenge
Yahoo has published its first global transparency report, outlining raw statistics surrounding government requests for user data in the first half of the year. In an accompanying blog post, Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell criticized the US government and highlighted the company's two-year legal challenge against the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The US government leads the group, with more than 12,000 data requests related to more than 40,000 individual accounts. Content disclosures were made in 4,604 cases, while only non-content information, such as IP addresses and names, was disclosed in 6,798 instances.
The US government restricts the company from disclosing specific details regarding requests associated with FISA or National Security Letters (NSLs), prohibiting even an aggregate count separated from other requests. As an indirect reference, Bell notes that national security requests only accounted for .01 percent of all global requests.
"We strenuously disagree with the government's position and will continue to advocate for greater transparency regarding requests made under national security authorities," the report says. "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."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently won a Freedom of Information Act challenge against the Department of Justice, forcing the agency to release information regarding its interpretation of a data-collection provision in the Patriot Act. Bell notes that Yahoo also won a recent motion requiring the US government to consider declassification of court documents from the FISA challenge.