Yahoo, Apple Reveal Links to NSA Snooping Scandal

Dennis Faas's picture

Yahoo and Apple have revealed how the US government accesses their customers' private information. It's part of an ongoing campaign by tech firms to try to avoid being tainted by the ongoing National Security Agency's PRISM scandal.

Until recently neither Yahoo nor Apple had discussed their role in the scandal, which involves government surveillance and secretive data requests. However, both firms have now published statistics showing how many times the government demanded information about their customers.

Yahoo Hit With 2,000 Data Requests A Month

Yahoo says that between the beginning of December 2012 and the end of May 2013 US government agencies made between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for information about its customers.

The firm says such requests were typically linked to domestic criminal investigations and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). (Source:

Yahoo notes that it can't break down the figures any more precisely because the law bans it from giving specific details about FISA requests. It says it's joining other tech firms by lobbying to overturn this ban.

Like Google and Microsoft, Yahoo plans to publish similar statistics every six months. It hopes this will help pressure the US government to reduce the number of data requests it makes.

Data Demands Sometimes Justifiable: Apple

Apple has released figures covering the same period. It says it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from the US government, covering a total of 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices.

The Cupertino, California-based firm adds that many of these requests were entirely legitimate: for example, some involved trying to find missing children or a lost patient suffering from Alzheimer's disease. (Source:

Unlike Google and Microsoft, neither firm has revealed the proportion of the requests they met and how many they refused.

In its most recent six-month report, covering July to December 2012, Google says US agencies made 8,438 data requests associated with 14,791 users or accounts. Of these many requests, Google complied fully or partially in 88 per cent of cases.

It's surprising Yahoo receives roughly as many requests in a six-month period as Google and Apple put together. None of the firms involved have yet given any explanation as to why this might be the case. (Source:

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