Frequently Asked Questions
Why are certain countries represented in Yahoo’s Transparency Report while others are not?
Beginning with the January-June 2014 reporting period the countries included in the Transparency Report are those countries that submitted a Government Data Request to Yahoo. For our first two reporting periods (January-June 2013 and July-December 2013), the countries listed are those in which Yahoo had a legal entity that received and responded to Government Data Requests during the relevant reporting period. During those reporting periods we did not include statistics associated with Yahoo entities that received fewer than five Government Data Requests during a reporting period. Those entities included Yahoo! Colombia and Yahoo! Hispanic Americas. Additionally, we do not include statistics for Yahoo! Japan, which is a joint venture operating independently from Yahoo! Inc., in which Yahoo! Inc. has a minority ownership interest.
Under what circumstances will Yahoo disclose information about a user to a government agency?
Yahoo discloses user data in response to valid legal process from a government agency with proper jurisdiction and authority. We carefully review government requests to determine the appropriate scope of data to be provided and interpret them narrowly in an effort to produce the least amount of data necessary to comply with the request.
Does Yahoo ever disclose user data to government agencies without first receiving legal process?
We may voluntarily disclose user data to a government agency in the rare instance where we conclude that disclosure without delay is necessary to prevent imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, as permitted by law. Even in such circumstances, we carefully review the request and construe it as narrowly as possible in light of the emergency.
Does this Transparency Report include statistics regarding data requests received by Yahoo from non-government entities?
No. This Transparency Report only includes Government Data Requests. Yahoo requires non-government entities (e.g., private civil litigants) seeking user data to follow applicable legal process (e.g., obtaining a valid subpoena or court order) before disclosing any user data. When Yahoo receives valid legal process from non-government entities, we carefully review and narrowly interpret such requests in an effort to produce the least amount of data necessary to comply with the request. Except where prohibited by law, our policy is to explicitly notify our users about third-party requests for their information prior to disclosure, and thereby provide them with an opportunity to challenge requests for their data.
Does this Transparency Report include statistics regarding Government Data Requests received by Tumblr?
No. Tumblr has issued its own transparency report which can be found at http://www.tumblr.com/transparency.
What do the terms in your report mean?
- Government Specified Accounts: The number of Yahoo accounts listed in or about which information was disclosed in response to a Government Data Request. This number may not reflect the number of users and accounts actually involved because: 1) a single account may have been included in more than one Government Data Request; 2) an individual user may have multiple accounts that were specified in one or more Government Data Requests; 3) if a Government Data Request specified an account that does not exist, that nonexistent account would nevertheless be included in our count of Government Specified Accounts; and 4) if a Government Data Request demanded information about accounts that satisfy specified criteria (e.g., accounts registered under a particular proper name or accounts associated with a particular phone number) and we determined that it was appropriate to produce data in response to the request, we would report the total number of accounts about which information was produced to the government in connection with that Government Data Request.
- Government Data Request: Legal process to a Yahoo entity from a government agency seeking information about Yahoo accounts and/or the activity of Yahoo users within Yahoo products. The Government Data Requests reflected in this report are generally made in connection with criminal investigations, but also include those from government entities in connection with non-criminal matters.
- Content: Data that our users create, communicate, and store on or through our services. This could include words in a communication (e.g., Mail or Messenger), photos on Flickr, files uploaded, Yahoo Address Book entries, Yahoo Calendar event details, thoughts recorded in Yahoo Notepad or comments or posts on Yahoo Answers or any other Yahoo property.
- NCD: Non-content data such as basic subscriber information (including the information captured at the time of registration, such as an alternate e-mail address, name, location, and IP address), login details, billing information, and other transactional information (e.g., “to,” “from,” and “date” fields from email headers).
- No Data Found: Yahoo produced no data in response to the Government Data Request because no responsive data could be found (i.e., the account didn’t exist or there was no data for the date range specified by the request).
- Rejected: Yahoo may have possessed data responsive to the Government Data Request, but none was produced because of a defect or other problem with the Government Data Request (e.g., the government agency sought information outside its jurisdiction or the request only sought data that could not be lawfully obtained with the legal process provided). This category also includes Government Data Requests that were withdrawn after being received by Yahoo. We carefully review Government Data Requests for legal sufficiency and interpret them narrowly in an effort to produce the least amount of data necessary to comply with the request.
- Government Removal Request: Governments make requests to remove publically-available content and/or information from Yahoo products, such as Flickr. These requests may be by court order or by a written request from a government official that we remove content from our services or review particular content to determine if it should be removed for violating a product's community guidelines or Yahoo’s Terms of Service. We include in our numbers those requests that we identify as being from a government agency. If a government agency used a Report Abuse link, for example, we wouldn’t be able to identify the party reporting the request to remove content and we would not include that report in our statistics. Additionally, our policies and systems are set up to identify and remove child pornography whenever we become aware of it, regardless of whether that request comes from the government. As a result, we do not currently track which of those removals were requested by governments, and we haven't included those statistics here. We count requests to remove publically-available content for other reasons (e.g., harassment, hate speech, impersonation).