Yahoo, new logo and all, it turning over a new leaf when it comes to privacy, reporting, and what the public is allowed to know. In the wake of the NSA / PRISM scandal, which is honestly still ongoing, Yahoo has followed Facebook in issuing a public transparency report. Facebook did likewise last month, and now Yahoo has published the company's first global transparency report, which details government data requests
from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013.
As you might expect, the report includes national security requests. Here's the bottom line from Yahoo: "For each country in this Transparency Report, we show the number of government data requests that we received during the reporting period and how we handled such requests. The total number of accounts specified in these government data requests during the reporting period comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent of Yahoo users worldwide."
The company plans to issue new, updated reports every six months, and it has clarified that it is not in any program that "volunteers" user data to the government; the government has to come asking, and they need a legal reason to do it. Ron Bell, General Counsel at Yahoo, noted the following: "You will also see the number of accounts specified in these government data requests, which comprised less than one one-hundredth of one percent (<.01%) of our worldwide user base."
That's a tiny, tiny number in the grand scheme of all users, but privacy
is an issue where it's really all or nothing. Either you trust a company to value every single member the same, or they have no ground to stand on. Hopefully, being more open about this will also force the government to think twice before blindly going after material that they probably shouldn't be leafing through.