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Yahoo joins Apple, Microsoft and Facebook by publishing US government data requests

Yahoo has joined a growing list of companies hoping to ease concerns over the Prism surveillance revelations with the publication of how many data requests it receives from the US government.

The company said that between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013 it received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests from US law enforcement agencies. This number included requests relating to criminal activity, the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and other matters.

The most common requests made related to fraud, homicides, kidnappings and other criminal investigations.

Yahoo said that it, like all other companies, is restricted when it comes to publishing the exact number of FISA requests it received, as these are classified. However, it has asked the government to let it reveal this information, echoing similar requests from Google and other major firms.

“Democracy demands accountability. Recognizing the important role that Yahoo! can play in ensuring accountability, we will issue later this summer our first global law enforcement transparency report, which will cover the first half of the year. We will refresh this report with current statistics twice a year,” said Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, and Ron Bell, General Counsel for the company in a blog post.

While the US government may never agree to reveal statistics or details on the FISA requests, Yahoo's move will help reassure users and put pressure on other companies to follow suit.