Yahoo releases figures on thousands of government requests for user data

"Democracy demands accountability," Mayer and Bell write.

Yahoo will update the transparency report with new figures twice a year.

Facebook, Microsoft and Apple have released similar figures in recent days in an attempt to maintain user trust in their handling and protection of people's personal data following revelations about the NSA's PRISM program. Reports earlier this month said tech companies had given the government access to the contents of users' emails, video chats and other information as a part of this surveillance program.

Tech companies have vehemently denied the reports and said they have not allowed the government to tap into their servers and access user data. In response, tech giants have released information about the number of government requests they receive for user data in an effort to boost transparency about the types of requests they receive and how they handle them.

The tech giants have also voiced their commitment to protection their users' privacy and vowed to maintain their trust.

"We will continually evaluate whether further actions can be taken to protect the privacy of users and our ability to defend it," Mayer and Bell write. "We appreciate — and do not take for granted — the trust you place in us."

Google, in particular, has stepped forward and argued that publishing the total number of government requests a company receives for user data isn't enough. Google contends that companies should break out the number of criminal and FISA court requests they receive.

In its Transparency Report, the search giant breaks down its figures, providing numbers for national security letters separately from criminal ones. It also breaks down requests it receives via search warrant and subpoena.

The government has yet to give tech companies permission to publish figures for FISA court requests separately from its aggregate data.

Twitter, which has not been linked to PRISM, has voiced support for Google's stance. In its Tumblr post, Yahoo took the same position and pressed the government to give companies permission to disclose such figures.

"Like all companies, Yahoo! cannot lawfully break out FISA request numbers at this time because those numbers are classified; however, we strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue," Mayer and Bell write.