Yahoo: PRISM data requests reached 13,000 in 6 months

The Yahoo logo displayed in front of the The Yahoo logo displayed in front of the Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. (July 17, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Yahoo! Inc., the largest U.S. Web portal, said it got as many as 13,000 requests for information from U.S. law enforcement agencies, becoming the latest technology company to detail government data collection.

The requests occurred in the six months ended May, with the most common types related to fraud, homicides and criminal investigations, Yahoo said in a posting on Tumblr. The company said it can't lawfully break out Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests, and it urged the U.S. government to reconsider its stance on the issue.

Yahoo joins Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in detailing thousands of warrants from government entities for data. The companies have come under scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency, disclosed this month that the NSA is collecting data under a U.S. government program code-named PRISM.

"We've worked hard over the years to earn our users' trust and we fight hard to preserve it," Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell said in the statement. "We will continually evaluate whether further actions can be taken to protect the privacy of our users and our ability to defend it." Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said it plans to issue its first global law-enforcement transparency report later this year and will refresh it every six months with new statistics.

PRISM gathers e-mails, videos and other private data of foreign surveillance targets through arrangements that vary by company, overseen by a secret panel of judges, according to slides provided by Snowden to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.

The three-decade-old FISA law lets intelligence agencies monitor the communications of non-U.S. citizens reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. and involved in terrorist activities or other crimes.

Apple, the world's most-valuable technology company, said it received as many as 5,000 requests for customer information from authorities. Facebook got 9,000 to 10,000 requests, while Microsoft got 6,000 to 7,000, their legal executives said in blog posts.

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