New Microsoft report: a step towards transparency

Microsoft released its first ever Law Enforcement Requests Report today, revealing that the company and its subsidiary Skype received over 75,000 requests for user data from law enforcement agencies around the world in 2012. This is an important step towards greater transparency, one privacy and freedom of expression advocates have actively encouraged in recent months.

In a statement  announcing the report, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith acknowledged “the broadening public interest in how often law enforcement agencies request customer data from technology companies and how our industry responds to these requests” and commended Google and Twitter for leading the way with their annual transparency reports. In addition to user data requests, Google’s reports reveal takedown requests and, for the first time two weeks ago, the number of secretive national security letters it receives from the US government each year. Index encourages Microsoft to reveal this data in subsequent reports. As the number of companies issuing transparency reports grows, we encourage government agencies to do the same in the name of greater transparency and accountability.

Click here to read Microsoft’s report . Standout statistics include:

  • 99 per cent of the 1,558 requests Microsoft complied with by disclosing customer content came in response to lawful warrants from US courts.
  • Skype released no content in response to the 4,713 requests for user data it received but did release user account information in some cases.
  • Two-thirds of the cases in which Microsoft disclosed non-content (ie user account details) came in response to requests from the US, the UK, Turkey, Germany and France.