September 29, 2013
Microsoft Fielded 37K Law Enforcement Data Requests In First Half of 2013
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Microsoft has revealed that it received over 37,000 requests for customer information from global law-enforcement agencies during the first half of 2013, excluding national security requests.
The Redmond, Washington-based company announced on Friday that it had received a total of 37,196 requests potentially impacting 66,539 accounts between January and June of this year. In comparison, Microsoft received 75,378 requests potentially impacting 137,424 accounts for all of 2012.
Of those requests, 77 percent were for information such as a user’s name, IP history and billing address, according to Engadget’s Timothy J. Seppala. No data was disclosed in 21 percent of those requests, while “at least some” customer content (emails, photos, address book information, etc.) was handed over in 2.19 percent of those instances.
A total of 7,014 of these requests affecting 18,809 accounts originated from US local, state or federal government agencies, said ZDNet Contributing Editor Larry Seltzer. Seven-hundred and forty-nine of the 817 total user content disclosures were American in origin, as were 4,569 of the “non-content data” information. In 911 total cases (588 involving US governments), requests were denied because they did not meet the legal requirements for disclosure.
“In June, Microsoft said it received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from US government entities,” French news agency AFP reported. “It said it was permitted to publish data on national security orders ‘only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other US local, state and federal law enforcement agencies’ and reported in a range, without specific numbers.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the requests described by Microsoft pertained to information about Hotmail email users, Skype VOIP calling service customers, and subscribers to the online version of the Office suite of productivity software.
“Like other tech companies, Microsoft has said it would like to be able to disclose information about secret US government requests for user data, including requests related to National Security Agency surveillance programs,” the publication added. “Microsoft is among the companies that are pushing the U.S. government to reveal more about such data requests, which burst into public attention after leaks from Edward Snowden.”
The Windows publishers explained that the requests affected less than 0.01 percent of Microsoft accounts. In addition, the firm reported that 73 percent of all requests originated from just five different nations (the US, the UK, France, Germany and Turkey) and that 70 percent of Skype requests came from four countries (the US, UK, France and Germany, accounting for over 70 percent of requests).