Yahoo has released transparency figures about government requests for user data for the period between January 1, 2013 and June 1, 2013, the company's first such disclosure. During the first six months of 2013, Yahoo received 12,444 government demands for user data on 40,322 users or accounts. The company complied with 98% of the requests, denying just two percent, or 241. Yahoo disclosed the content of communications or other services 4,604 times, and disclosed metadata 6,798 times.
The company notes that the demand figures include requests under authorities it calls "national security" related: the FISA Amendments Act and the National Security Letter section of the USA Patriot Act. National Security Letters (NSLs) are secret federal subpoenas that come with a gag order, barring the recipient from disclosing the existence of the demand letter to anyone. Yahoo is barred from disclosing how many demands the company received pursuant to these "national security authorities." Therefore we don't know how many demands involved probable cause warrants, and how many did not meet that gold standard of US due process.
The numbers reported above include all types of government data requests such as criminal law enforcement requests and those under U.S. national security authorities, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and National Security Letters (NSLs), if any were received.The U.S. Government does not permit us to disclose additional details regarding the number of requests, if any, under national security authorities at this time, or even to separate them in aggregate from other requests. Additionally, the government would not authorize us to separate NSLs from other government data requests or to express the NSLs that we have received, if any, as a range from 0 to 1,000—even though the government allowed other providers to do so in the past. We strenuously disagree with the government's position and will continue to advocate for greater transparency regarding requests made under national security authorities. If we succeed in persuading the U.S. Government to allow greater transparency, we will disclose additional details in future reports, and we will also update this report with more details related to national security requests as permitted.