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Microsoft Reports 37,196 Data Requests from Law Enforcement

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Microsoft received more than 37,000 requests for customer data from law-enforcement agencies in the first half of 2013, according to the company’s newly-released Law Enforcement Requests Report.

Microsoft, which also includes Skype, received 37,196 requests from law enforcement agencies affecting 66,539 accounts in the first six months of this year.

Given last year’s numbers — 75,378 requests and 137,424 potential accounts impacted during the whole of 2012 — it looks like Microsoft will receive roughly the same number of requests by the end of 2013.

Microsoft image
Microsoft image

Overall, less that 0.01 percent of customer accounts are affected by law enforcement requests for customer data, Microsoft said

Approximately 77 percent of requests Microsoft received resulted in the disclosure of “non-content data” and no data at all was disclosed in nearly 21 percent of requests.

“In the first half of 2013, Microsoft disclosed content in response to 2.2 percent of the total number of law enforcement requests received,” the report read. “Each of those disclosures was in response to a court order or warrant, and the vast majority of those disclosures related to users of our consumer services.”

Much like last year, a vast majority — 92 percent — of those warrants and court orders that resulted in disclosure came from the United States.

“While we see requests from a large number of countries, when you look at the overall number, the requests are fairly concentrated with over 73 percent of requests coming from five countries, the United States, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France,” the report read. “For Skype the requests were similarly concentrated, with four countries, the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, accounting for over 70 percent of requests.”

Microsoft received the following requests:

• United States — 7,014 user data requests, 978 Skype data requests.

• Turkey — 6,226 user data requests, two Skype data requests.

• Germany — 5,185 user data requests, 558 Skype data requests.

• United Kingdom — 4,404 user data requests, 759 Skype data requests.

• France — 4,379 user data requests, two Skype data requests.

• Australia — 1,219 user data requests, 266 Skype data requests.

• Brazil — 1,098 user data requests, five Skype data requests.

• India — 278 user data requests, 43 Skype data requests.

• Canada — 69 user data requests, 21 Skype data requests.

Stats for the remainder of the countries can be found here.

Microsoft said law enforcement sought information about a miniscule portion of its millions of enterprise service users.

“We received 19 requests for e-mail accounts we host for enterprise customers, seeking information about 48 accounts,” the report said. “We disclosed customer data in response to five of those requests (four content; one only non-content), and in all but one case, we were able to notify the customer. We rejected the request, found no responsive data, or redirected law enforcement to obtain the information from the customer directly in thirteen of those cases. One request is still pending.”

All of the 19 enterprise requests came from American agencies about enterprise customers located in the United States.

Microsoft said its latest report “paints part of the picture” because it excludes National Security Letters data.

Microsoft, along with other companies have been petitioning the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for the right to publish stats on the NSLs they receive.

“We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with you and, therefore, are currently petitioning the federal government for permission to publish more detailed data relating to any legal demands we may have received from the U.S. pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),” Microsoft said.

“In June we published aggregate data which showed the combined totals of all requests from US government agencies for the second half of 2012, including if we received them, national security orders. While we believe that had some value in quantifying the overall volume of requests we received, it is clear that the continued lack of transparency makes it very difficult for the community—including the global community—to have an informed debate about the balance between investigating crimes, keeping communities safe, and personal privacy.”

About the author

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Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.