Yahoo Dishes Out New Transparency Report

Yahoo recently announced that it has updated its transparency report to cover the second half of 2014. Included in the report are criminal data requests such as court orders and subpoenas, National Security Letters and FISA requests stemming from the first half of 2014. Yahoo General Council Ron Bell also said that this report will be the company's fourth.

"At Yahoo, users always come first. We evaluate each government request with a focus on minimizing disclosure of user data and we publish a transparency report to promote accountability and transparency," Bell added.

A chart in the transparency report showed that the United States had the highest government request numbers with 4,865 data requests of 9,752 flagged Yahoo users. Of all the requests, 59 percent led to the disclosure of Non-Content Data and 24 percent led to the disclosure of user content. Yahoo rejected 5 percent of the requests and found no data to give in 12 percent of the requests.

As for government removal requests, the United States made 2 requests regarding 7 items. Yahoo declared in small print that it received a court order from the government to take down the content on specific domains. Yahoo didn't find the domains or the content in question, so Yahoo did not comply with the order and thus had a 50 percent compliance rate.

Yahoo defines content as "data that our users create, communicate, and store on or through our services." Non-content data consists of basic user information such as alternate email addresses, name, location, IP address and so on. A "No Data Found" label means that Yahoo couldnt find any data in the account, or there simply was no account to examine.

"We carefully review Government Data Requests for legal sufficiency and interpret them narrowly in an effort to produce the least amount of data necessary to comply with the request," the transparency report said.

In addition to the United States, Taiwan also had high numbers, with 2,081 data requests for 3,193 user accounts. The chart showed that 84 percent of the company's disclosure focused on NCD, whereas 1 percent of the requests produced actual content. Six percent of the government requests were rejected and 9 percent produced no data whatsoever. Further, the United Kingdom only had 2,081 data requests for 2,240 accounts. Other countries with requests greater than 1,000 include India, Germany and France.

"As we note in our transparency report, we've encrypted many of our most important products and services to protect against unauthorized access by governments or other actors," Bell said. "We recently rolled out an end-to-end (e2e) encryption extension for Yahoo Mail, now available on GitHub."

Bell concluded his blog by saying that the company is dedicated to protecting user information from "unclear, improper, overbroad or unlawful" requests made by the government.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • tom10167
    The US Gov thinks terrorists and hackers are using Yahoo? YAHOO???
  • kenjitamura
    The US Gov thinks terrorists and hackers are using Yahoo? YAHOO???
    It's brilliant. They're hiding in the one place no one would ever think to look.. Yahoo.
  • Kenneth Hans
    Too bad they're not transparent about how they use/sell your data within Yahoo itself.
  • Marcus52
    Yahoo will impress me as being at least somewhat competent when they figure out how to stop putting email I've marked as "Not Spam" in the Spam folder.