Microsoft got 44 requests for data a day from US agencies in first half of 2013

By SB Anderson

U.S. government agencies asked Microsoft to share customer information or content nearly 8,000 times in the first half of 2013. Those requests involved 22,300 accounts, new data released by the Seattle-based firm on Friday said.

Based on so-called “transparency” reports released so far this year from Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, US agencies between January and the end of June made, on average, up to 183 requests per day across the four companies, for a total of 33,338 requests affecting 84,597 accounts.

Google, which has been releasing law enforcement request data longer than any major competitor, has yet to release its data for the first half of the year. Microsoft first released some data early last summer after former NSA employee Edward Snowden began leaking top-secret documents about government surveillance programs involving the major internet companies.

Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom and France followed the U.S. in the No. 1 spot for requests from Microsoft. Together, the five made up 3 in 4 of the global 37,196 requests affecting 66,539 accounts.

Just over 1 in 10 U.S. requests led to user content being released. In 2 out of 3 cases, at least some user account information such as name, gender and Zip Code was turned over. Only about 1 in 100 was rejected for not meeting legal requirements. And in just under 1 in 20 cases — 17% — no customer data was found.

“The overwhelming majority of law enforcement requests seek information related to our free consumer services used by individuals in their personal capacity such as: web-mail accounts (Hotmail/, SkyDrive cloud storage; Messenger, and Skype,” Microsoft said.

The company said it received more requests from foreign countries than its competitors because it has so many official offices in about 100 countries.

Microsoft’s data did not include “National Security Letter” requests, for which the government puts strict restrictions on numbers and data that can be released, and over what time period. It does include in its report that aggregate, rounded data from earlier years.  Many companies, Microsoft included, are publicly challenging the restrictions put on the national security data by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Transparency Data First Half 2013


Microsoft Summary for US, Jan-June 2013

US data requests of Microsoft First Half 2013

Microsoft graphic