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Microsoft releases government data request stats: over 6,000 in six months

Richard Lawler, @Rjcc
June 14, 2013
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Like Facebook earlier, Microsoft has revealed some details about the number of government requests for data that it receives, and is for the first time including national security requests in the total count. Also similar to Facebook, Microsoft says the requests cover a tiny fraction of the accounts it serves, with between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security requests covering between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts received over the last six months. Microsoft also noted precisely what it can reveal (included below), adding the numbers between all agencies, all company consumer services, in bands of 1,000 and for the period between July and December last year. Microsoft also parroted Facebook's hope that the government would allow "greater steps" in allowing transparency in the future. Returning to a previous Microsoft transparency report, Reuters points out it indicated receiving requests concerning 24,565 accounts in 2012 -- by halving that number it roughly estimates national security requests are touching the majority of the accounts counted.

Here is what the data shows: For the six months ended December 31, 2012, Microsoft 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 U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal). This only impacts a tiny fraction of Microsoft's global customer base.

We are permitted to publish data on national security orders received (including, if any, FISA Orders and FISA Directives), but only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; only for the six-month period of July 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2012; only if the totals are presented in bands of 1,000; and all Microsoft consumer services had to be reported together.

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