Microsoft Discloses New Data On Government Requests For User Information

Microsoft today disclosed data concerning global government request for its users’ data, and information about their accounts in the first half of 2014. The total number of requests, and the number of accounts impacted were similar to the six month period that concluded 2013.

In total, between January and June of this year, 34,494 requests were sent to Microsoft, impacting 58,562 accounts. In the preceding six months, 35,083 requests dealt with 58,676 accounts. The United States, Germany, France, and Turkey were the leading request sources.

Microsoft is granting data less often:

Of law enforcement requests received, less than 3 percent resulted in disclosure of customer content data, while approximately 75 percent of requests resulted in disclosure of “non-content” data. Meanwhile, 22 percent were either rejected on legal grounds or no data was found, compared to 18 percent for the preceding six-month period.

The company also reported that the number of FISA orders that it received in the period landed between zero and 999. Between 18,000 and 18,999 accounts were potentially impacted.

The above data, of course, is only part of what governments around the world manage to extract about us without having to ask permission. Over the past year and a half, we, the global public, have learned extensively about governmental overreach into our data. Those disclosures, led by the leaks sourced to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have caused calls reform to sound out not only from the public, but also from some organs of government.

That technology companies can report the above has been struggle enough. It is not enough.

I highlight the data due to Microsoft’s current battle with the government to protect its overseas users from domestic search warrants. So far the company has been unsuccessful in convincing a judge of its case. Though it continues to fight.

When it comes to bi-yearly disclosures of this sort, just keep in mind that you are seeing what is requested through what could be called normal channels. It doesn’t include information collected by NSA programs like MUSCULAR, and so forth. In other words, there is much more going on.