US tops information requests in latest Yahoo report

September 25, 2014
The United States called on Yahoo to disclose data from accounts of 12,533 users, compared with the 4,759 accounts targeted by second-place Taiwan, according to a report

A Yahoo transparency report released Thursday showed that the United States topped the list of countries demanding information about users in the first half of this year.

The United States called on the California-based Internet veteran to disclose data from accounts of 12,533 users, compared with the 4,759 accounts targeted by second-place Taiwan, according to the report.

Data was only provided in a fraction of the cases, Yahoo reported.

"We've worked hard over the years to earn our users' trust and we fight hard to preserve it," Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer said in an introduction to the report.

The transparency report included requests made with National Security Letters cloaked in secrecy, and which come with a six-month reporting delay imposed by the US government.

"On the international front, a number of countries seek to expand their surveillance authorities beyond their borders," Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said in the report.

Bell maintained that US Department of Justice efforts to improve a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process could help counter the "worrisome trend."

"We will continue our efforts to protect your information from unclear, improper, overbroad or unlawful government requests," Bell said.

More than 800 million people around the world visit Yahoo daily in online "habits" including tending to email, sharing photos, and tracking news or sports, according to the company.

Court documents disclosed earlier this month showed that US authorities threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to comply with a secret surveillance program requiring it to hand over user data in the name of .

The documents, made public in a rare unsealing by a secretive court panel, "underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts," Bell said in a blog post at the time.

US online snooping

The documents shed new light on the PRISM snooping program revealed in leaked files from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The program allowed US intelligence services to sweep up massive amounts of data from major Internet firms including Yahoo and Google. Officials have said the deeply contentious program ended in 2011.

The 1,500 pages of documents were ordered released by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the case dating from 2007, according to Bell.

"We refused to comply with what we viewed as unconstitutional and overbroad surveillance and challenged the US government's authority," he said.

Yahoo's court challenge failed and it was forced to hand over the US user data.

"At one point, the US government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply," Bell revealed.

Since the Snowden leaks, Yahoo and others have been seeking to make public these court documents to show they were forced to comply with government requests and made numerous attempts to fight these efforts, rather than simply acquiescing to them, as some critics say.

The redacted court records, seen by AFP, showed Yahoo challenged the government on constitutional grounds, saying the surveillance program violated protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

"The US Supreme Court has never sanctioned warrantless surveillance of US citizens," Yahoo said in a legal brief.

Explore further: US threatened Yahoo with huge fine over surveillance

Related Stories

US threatened Yahoo with huge fine over surveillance

September 11, 2014

US authorities threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to comply with a secret surveillance program requiring it to hand over user data in the name of national security, court documents showed Thursday.

Yahoo reports 29,000 data requests

September 7, 2013

Yahoo received some 29,000 government requests for data on its users this year, with almost half coming from the United States, according to the company's global transparency report released Friday.

Secret court opens door to unsealing Yahoo! documents

July 16, 2013

The secret US court overseeing national security investigations has opened the door to declassifying documents related to the government's data collection program in a case involving Internet giant Yahoo!

Yahoo seeks to reveal its fight against NSA Prism requests

July 12, 2013

In a rare legal move, Yahoo Inc. is asking a secretive U.S. surveillance court to let the public see its arguments in a 2008 case that played an important role in persuading tech companies to cooperate with a controversial ...

US government to declassify parts of secret order

September 13, 2013

(AP)—The U.S. government says it will declassify parts of a 2008 secret court order that required Yahoo to turn over customer data under the National Security Agency's PRISM data-gathering program.

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.