Now that the NSA
has apparently assented to allow companies from which it culled personal user data to post some numbers about how many requests were made, more companies are disclosing that information. Facebook and Microsoft posted some numbers
this weekend, and now Yahoo!
has some as well.
According to a post written by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer
and Yahoo! General Counsel Ron Bell, law enforcement agencies made between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for data from Yahoo!, (including FISA
requests) between December 1st, 2012 and May 31st, 2013.
Yahoo! says that “The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations.” The company further noted that like everyone else, it’s not allowed to reveal how many of those requests pertain specifically to FISA.
The company also stated, “Democracy demands accountability. Recognizing the important role that Yahoo! can play in ensuring accountability, we will issue later this summer our first global law enforcement transparency report, which will cover the first half of the year. We will refresh this report with current statistics twice a year.”
NSA data center in Utah
Of course, the above are all important steps to take regarding transparency, but it’s simply not enough. If nothing else, it’s crucial that the NSA allows these companies to let the public know how many FISA requests are happening.
It’s also interesting to read these company’s statements; this is purely speculative, but they all appear to be downright angry about FISA. Surely, as citizens, these CEOs are upset about this level of skullduggery, but as people accustomed to being in charge, having control, and getting the final say in who sees what data, one wonders if their nature is being threatened. It may be the case that the average citizen will eventually get more transparency from the government in these matters, and ticked-off control freak tech CEOs might be our best ally.