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Yahoo publishes first transparency report, but can't provide NSA specifics

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Yahoo (STOCK)
Yahoo (STOCK)

Yahoo today published its first-ever transparency report outlining global government data requests it received between January 1st and June 30th of this year. "We take user privacy seriously and appreciate our role as a global company in promoting freedom of expression wherever we do business," the company writes. National security requests — such as those from the NSA in the United States — are lumped into the numbers, but Yahoo is unable to break down such inquiries individually. Notably, Tumblr statistics aren't included in the report. Yahoo says its recent acquisition will issue a separate report.

"We strenuously disagree with the government's position..."

And whereas some technology companies have been authorized to reveal totals on those secretive requests (so long as they're cited in a broad range), Yahoo isn't getting the same privilege. "We strenuously disagree with the government's position and will continue to advocate for greater transparency regarding requests made under national security authorities," Yahoo says. The company wants users to know it's fighting for their privacy, specifically calling out the two-year court battle it waged with the US government over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The transparency report shows a total of 12,444 requests from US authorities, impacting 40,322 user accounts in all. In 6,798 of those instances, Yahoo says it provided "non-content" user data, including email addresses, names, locations, IP addresses, login details, and billing info. User-created content (such as emails, Flickr uploads, and yes, even data from Yahoo Answers) was served up in response to 4,604 requests. Yahoo turned down 241 requests, and says it was unable to come up with any relevant data in 801 instances. Total requests from US authorities dwarf those from other countries; Germany is second highest with 4,295 data requests. Yahoo says it will publish new transparency reports every six months, and has pledged to offer more specific data if permitted to do so by the US government.