Yahoo Says UK Received 1,945 Government Requests For User Data

Yahoo has published a report detailing the amount of government requests it received for user data in 32 countries for the first half of 2015.

The UK received 1,945 government data requests in the time period. However, 1,153 of those requests were denied by Yahoo.

“We fight any requests that we deem unclear, improper, overbroad, or unlawful,” said Ron Bell, Yahoo General Counsel.


Overall, Yahoo received 15,583 requests for data from January 1 to June 30 2015, with 4,993 of those requests being rejected by the web giant.

The amount of overall requests was lower than the same period for 2014, where the number of requests stood at 18,935 across the 32 countries.

“We carefully scrutinize each request to make sure that it complies with the law, and we push back on those requests that don’t satisfy our rigorous standards,” said Yahoo.

“When we are compelled to disclose data, consistent with our Global Principles for Responding to Government Requests, we disclose only as much data as is necessary to comply with the request.”

The number of requests from the UK government for user data has stayed roughly consistent for the past two years. In 2013, the UK total was 3,396. In 2014, the number dropped slightly to 2,978.

“While we can’t control the number of requests, we demand that government data requests be made through lawful means and for lawful purposes,” continued Yahoo.

The United States topped the list of the user data most requested, with 5,221 requests made in the first half of this year. Interestingly, only 304 of those were denied by Yahoo.

Yahoo also revealed another metric in its transparency report: the number of global ‘emergency disclosure requests’. Yahoo describes these requests as “governments seeking information in emergency situations, i.e. the disclosure of information is sought to save a life or prevent serious physical harm”.

There were 227 emergency disclosure requests in the first half of 2015. But what is interesting about this figure is that only 63 percent of these requests resulted in the disclosure of data, meaning that Yahoo found that, despite the government claiming the requests were for emergency situations, Yahoo still found the requests lawful or suitable.

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Ben Sullivan

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

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