Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is among the large tech companies that allowed government agencies access to private information without permission, and promised transparency in the aftermath. That transparency has, in the case of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) at the very least, expressed itself in an anemic annual transparency report.
With the private data scandal erupting from the revelation that the NSA was illegally spying on phone calls and emails, it’s a little disappointing that Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) decided to omit the company from its transparency report. Over at The Verge, Chris Welch draws the eye to the lack of numbers broken down by the agency in the report.
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The Yahoo transparency report showed that the company had received 12,444 requests for information from U.S. authorities. The requests impacted the accounts of just over 40,000 people. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) said that in 6,798 reports, it provided personal information rather than user generated content. 4,604 requests for user-generated content were complied as well.
The statistics say nothing about where the data requests came from, and offers little insight into the web of information-collecting woven by the National Security Agency in the last decade. The problem is not wholly the fault of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO). There are legal constraints on what it is allowed to share with the public.
NSA data collection
The NSA data collection scandal appears to have been forgotten by the media in favor of coverage of the War in Syria. The scandal briefly caused outrage at the behavior of the National Security Agency, and the collaborationist attitude of the technology companies involved.
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and the other companies involved are attempting to demonstrate transparency, but the legal constraints on these reports make them revelatory of opacity. The public is unlikely to see the company as a champion of privacy and free speech in the wake of this release.