Major US internet corporation Yahoo has announced that American law enforcement agencies had made between 12,000 and 13,000 demands for user data over past six months, in the latest case of tech firms admitting to their involvement in the massive US electronic spying bid.
In an effort to restore confidence in its users after revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM electronic surveillance program, Yahoo revealed the extent of its dealings with the US spy agency, RT reported Tuesday.
The California-based Internet corporation states that between December 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013, “we received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests, inclusive of criminal, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and other requests. The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations,” according to a statement by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell.
The company further complained that due to the classified nature of FISA requests, they would not be able to reveal the number of requests directly linked to “national security.”
“We strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue,” the statement added.
This is while the Apple Corporation announced that it had received between 4,000 and 5,000 demands for user data by US authorities over the same time period, adding that 9,000 to 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in the demands.
Moreover, Facebook and Microsoft had previously disclosed the number of demand for user data by US spying agencies for the second half of 2012.
Facebook said it received between 9,000 and 10,000 demands from all US entities, while Microsoft said it received between 6,000 and 7,000 “criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders” affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 user accounts over the same period.
Former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed two NSA data-collection programs, has insisted that the agency had unfettered, real-time access to the content on the servers of Google, Facebook Microsoft, Yahoo and five other major tech corporations.
The companies have denied the claims, stating the so-called FISA ‘gag order’ tied their hands when it came to providing greater transparency regarding government requests for customer information.
During a live Internet chat session with the Guardian on Sunday, Snowden repudiated the US tech firms efforts to downplay their role in the surveillance program.
“Their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies. As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we’re finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception,” Snowden emphasized.
Snowden further stressed that legal pressures by the US government did not absolve the major tech corporations from broader ethical responsibilities.
“They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation. If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?”
Yahoo, meanwhile, said “Democracy demands accountability,” pledging the company would “continually evaluate whether further actions can be taken to protect the privacy of our users and our ability to defend it.”
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