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On Friday, Yahoo joined Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Facebook and released its first government transparency report detailing the number of requests it had fielded from countries around the world. It complied with 98% of requests from the U.S. government.
Transparency reports list aggregate numbers of government requests for account data, often broken down by country and the number of individual accounts affected. But companies want to be able to show how many requests were national security related versus common criminal investigations and other situations in which there was a warrant or subpoena.
Facebook also recently released its first transparency report for the first six months of 2013, and while it could say there were 9,000 requests from the U.S. government for user data, it couldn’t specify how many were for the NSA.
Tech companies are flexing some legal muscle to get around the gag orders. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook have filed lawsuits against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — Facebook just last week and the other companies in June. They want the U.S. government to allow tech companies to divulge more information about its requests for user data.
On stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Wednesday, the Facebook and Yahoo CEOs both expressed frustration toward the government for the way it has handled National Security Agency requests and the secrecy it requires.
The U.S. government requests information on foreign users from companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo through national security related orders like those from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. A gag order prevents the companies from sharing any information about the requests, including, until recently, that they even existed.
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Source: Associated Press