Yahoo Latest Tech Giant To Disclose Surveillance Requests

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Marissa Mayer says government should let tech companies be more transparent on FISA requests

Yahoo has followed Apple, Facebook and Microsoft in delivering more transparency surrounding government requests for user data, following leaks from whistle-blower Edward Snowden on the high level of snooping carried out by US government.

Previously, organisations had been banned from publicly disclosing any requests the government made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but some have been given the green light to be a little more open.

inside-yahooWhilst they can’t say whether they have received FISA requests, they can include them in aggregate counts of overall US applications for customer information.

Yahoo said it had received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests in total between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013.

Yahoo wants more transparency

“The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations,” a post from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and general counsel Ron Bell read.

“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.”

Yahoo also pledged to issue transparency reports, similar to those offered by Google and Microsoft, twice every 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.  We appreciate – and do not take for granted – the trust you place in us,” Mayer and Bell added.

Snowden’s most recent leak, which claimed to show GCHQ had spied on politicians during the G20 meeting in London in 2009, have caused outrage, not least amongst Turkish dignitaries who were thought to have been targeted.

The debate over the PRISM data collection tool, and how far it lets US government access data on servers of Internet giants, rages on.

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