Microsoft Tallies Disclosures to Police

Company Renews Call for Customer Protections
Microsoft Tallies Disclosures to Police

Microsoft, in disclosing that it fulfilled only 11 percent of the requests for customer information from U.S. law enforcement agencies during the second half of 2013, reiterates it call for an international framework that protects customers' rights.

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John Frank, Microsoft vice president for legal and corporate affairs, says the company receives demands for customer data from a large number of countries. "This highlights the need we've previously outlined for an international convention that is grounded in human rights commitments and covers these important issues," he says.

Frank explains that Microsoft's new report covers requests from criminal law enforcement agencies and not queries regarding national security, which is disclosed in another report (see U.S. Requests for Customer Data Revealed).

According to the latest Microsoft report, from July to December, the company received 5,652 requests for information about 12,979 accounts from U.S. law enforcement agencies, and disclosed content for 10.8 percent of those requests. In the first half of the year, Microsoft received 7,014 requests about 18,809 accounts, resulting in the disclosure of content for 10.7 percent of the requests.

U.S. Law Enforcement Requests Fulfilled

Worldwide, Microsoft received 35,083 requests from law enforcement agencies concerning 58,676 accounts in the second half of 2013. More than three-quarters of those requests resulted in disclosure of only metadata. Microsoft disclosed no data in 21 percent of the requests.

Only 2 percent of the worldwide requests in the second half of 2013 resulted in disclosure of customer content data. Most of these requests - more than 80 percent - came from U.S. enforcement agencies. The second half figures are similar to those recorded in the first six months of 2013.

"Across our services, and out of hundreds of millions of accounts [worldwide], only a fraction of accounts are affected - less than 0.01 percent," Frank writes in a blog posting.

Microsoft says that in the second half of 2013, it received only three legal orders worldwide for data associated with use of its commercial services by its enterprise customers - those with more than 50 seats - seeking information about 15 accounts. The company disclosed information in each case.

Microsoft issues the semi-annual reports on law enforcement requests as part of its commitment to be transparent, Frank says. "Public availability of such data is important to our customers as well as to an increasingly broad community of advocates and stakeholders working to find the appropriate balance of policies that promote public safety and personal data privacy," he says.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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