Yahoo's How-To Guide For Big Brother Leaks

What Yahoo And MySpace will tell the police

On December 23, 2008, Yahoo (YHOO) created a “complicance guide for law enforcement,” detailing what kinds of user data the company keeps and for how long, and how government officials should go about requesting it.

Check out the annotated documents →

News Corp (NWS) social network MySpace published a similar document in 2006.

Though Yahoo’s guide “is not meant to be distributed to individuals or organisations that are not law enforcement entities,” we obtained both through WikiLeaks.

Given all the controversy over copyright infringement, Internet child predators, and even simple cyber security, its obvious these companies had to create these documents. We suppose Yahoo and MySpace rivals Facebook, Google, AOL and all the rest hand out documents just like these to law enforcement.

That doesn’t stop the docs from being a little bit creepy anyway. That’s because they sometimes read like menus for a data-hungry Big Brother.

For example, Yahoo’s document helpfully alerts law enforcement that if they’d like to read a user’s instant messanger logs, they better ask within 45 days and come bearing a 2703(d) order. That is, unless there’s “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.” If that’s the case, there’s another letter to fax entirely.

MySpace wants police to know they can access user ID, IP addresses and login date stamps for up to 90 days after a user deletes their account.

Check out the annotated documents →

The doc presents a menu of different types of data Yahoo keeps about its users, and for how long

The letter explains what kinds of data different levels of legal requests will get law enforcement

Sample letters for law enforcement officers who have subpoena or court order in hand…

Under federal law, Yahoo can charge law enforcement for the time it takes to dig up data. Here are Yahoo's rates.

From MySpace's 2006 doc, here's a sample letter for law enforcement seeking the preservation of user data

If a user wants law enforcement to see their data, the cops can send this form to MySpace

MySpace's menu of data for law enforcement

MySpace explains how long it retains user data…

…including information from deleted accounts.

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