Microsoft Releases Second Transparency Report of Government Agency Data Requests - The UpStream

Microsoft Releases Second Transparency Report of Government Agency Data Requests

posted Sunday Sep 29, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Releases Second Transparency Report of Government Agency Data Requests

Earlier this month, we covered Yahoo's transparency report, which was very impressive and intriguing in terms of the numbers, accounts and countries in which information was disclosed. Of course, this wasn't the first report in a post-PRISM world, and companies like Google and Twitter have also released such data. Now, Microsoft is adding to the list again, and has released a similar report of the first six months of 2013.

From Microsoft, here's what the company's report covers:

This is our second Law Enforcement Requests Report and it covers the period from January to June 2013. The report details the number of requests for data we received from law enforcement agencies around the world, and how Microsoft responds to those requests. It covers requests for data relating to all of Microsoft's online and cloud services, including Skype.

Much like the other reports, Microsoft won't disclose detailed information about the type of request nor any national security letters. However, unlike Yahoo, Microsoft did not include any NSLs in its report, while Yahoo simply added them into the general pool of requests.

So, here's the numbers. Including Skype, the first six months of 2013 brought Microsoft 37,196 requests of 66,539 accounts. In 2012, these numbers totaled 75,378 requests for 137,424 accounts. In this, the ever-popular "non-content data" was disclosed to 77 percent of the accounts, and 21 perfect of account requests were responded to with no data given. For the remaining 2 to 3 percent of the accounts, Microsoft disclosed customer content data, which would include email subject and body, SkyDrive pictures and more. The company did note that all content given was due to lawful warrants and requests, which Microsoft had to comply with. Not surprisingly, of that 3 percent of "content-disclosed" accounts, 92 percent of the requests came from US law enforcement or government officials. Those numbers match right up with that of 2012.

Microsoft highlights that less than 0.01 percent of all accounts were ever affected by law enforcement requests for data. And, in this small percent, the "overwhelming majority" of them were only for simple non-content data. Again, I feel I should stress that not all of the requests were from some NSA/PRISM/government conspiracy-related endeavor, as those were pooled together in with the rest of every day, police or other official requests. Fun fact here: 73 percent of all requests globally came from five countries, US, Turkey, Germany, UK and France, in that order. Microsoft also used the report to disclose requests for enterprise data, such as from products like Office 365.

You can read the entire report at the link below in both XLS and PDF format. Further, the page comes with nifty charts and graphs that you can click on for each country. And that's what makes not having privacy fun.


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