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Yahoo reveals some data request numbers, urges openness on secret FISA orders

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Yahoo (STOCK)
Yahoo (STOCK)

Of the nine major tech companies at the heart of Eric Snowden’s revelations about an NSA spying program called PRISM, over the past week, Facebook, Microsoft, and most recently Apple have all opted to publish the total number of data requests they’ve received from the government. Today, they’re being joined by Yahoo, which announced that over the past six months it’s received between 12,000 and 13,000 such requests. Because of the Obama administration's requirement to obfuscate the data, that number includes ordinary law enforcement requests and secret FISA orders, without a further breakdown.

"We strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance."

CEO Melissa Mayer writes that "like all companies, Yahoo! cannot lawfully break out FISA request numbers at this time… however, we strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue." In contrast, both Twitter and Google have elected not to publish their own totals, arguing that doing so would be "a step backward."

Last week we learned about Yahoo’s efforts to invalidate the secret court order that required it to divulge user data to intelligence agencies. While it ultimately lost, its efforts to protect user data from what it believed to be unlawful search has reflected well on the company. "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," wrote CEO Mayer.