New Transparency Hub debuts with latest reports

Today Microsoft is launching a new transparency website, bringing together our existing transparency reports including the Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report. It also includes a new transparency report that details requests we receive from a variety of parties seeking the removal of online content.

The new Microsoft Transparency Hub, which can be found at www.microsoft.com/transparency, is intended to provide easy access to a number of reports published by the company in a centralized place.

The Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report have been extensively redesigned, and cover the first six months of 2015, with the exception of orders from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are subject to a six-month reporting delay. Overall, the reports reflect that we saw little change in the number of requests we received for customer data from prior reporting period, which covered the last six months of 2014:

  • Microsoft received a total number of 35,228 requests for customer information from law enforcement agencies in the first half of 2015. This reflects a slight increase over the 31,002 requests received for the second half of 2014.
  • Just 3 percent of law enforcement requests resulted in the disclosure of content customers created, shared or stored on our services. Microsoft does not disclose customer content without a court order or warrant.
  • The total number of requests rejected for not meeting legal requirements doubled again. In the first half of 2015 Microsoft rejected 4,383 requests, or 12 percent, for not meeting legal requirements. In the last half of 2014, Microsoft rejected 2,342 requests for not meeting legal requirements.
  • Requests from law enforcement agencies in five countries – United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, France and Germany – represent 72.7 percent of total requests in the first half of 2015.

In addition to these two reports, we also are publishing for the first time our Content Removal Requests Report. The majority of requests covered by this report are for the removal of links to content from our search engine, Bing. This new report details requests we have received in three categories:

  • Requests from governments based on violations of local laws or our terms of service;
  • Requests from copyright owners claiming infringement of protected works; and,
  • Requests from residents of Europe under the European Court of Justice’s 2014 “Right to be Forgotten” ruling.

This new report illustrates how Microsoft strives to comply with local and intellectual property laws while adhering to our commitment to transparency and free expression. While the categories we are reporting today cover different types of requests, we’ve established a general set of guidelines as we review and process these types of requests:

  • We require that requests for content removal be in writing.
  • We communicate to users that content has been removed from search results. For example, for government and copyright requests, notice is provided at the bottom of the relevant search results page when links to content are removed. For Right to be Forgotten requests, a more general notice is provided due to privacy concerns that appears at the bottom of all European search results pages, which indicates that the results may not include links to content removed as a result of the ruling.
  • We limit the removal of content from the market specific versions of Bing in the country or areas where the requests are made, except in the case of copyright requests, which are removed on a global basis.

This inaugural release of our Content Removal Requests Report is very much a V1, much like the inaugural releases of our Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report were. Like those two reports, we expect to improve upon the information we’re providing today, adding additional detail and additional categories of information in the future.

We also expect that our new Microsoft Transparency Hub will continue to evolve as we gather here reports on a variety of other topics and seek to provide our customers with a better understanding of how Microsoft works to improve transparency about these types of requests and about our own activities around the world.

About the Author

Vice President for EU Government Affairs

John Frank is Vice President EU Government Affairs and is leading the Microsoft Brussels office. Prior to this role Frank was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, leading the Digital Trust and Security group which includes the Law Enforcement and National Security team, the Digital Crimes Unit, the Industry Affairs group, and Competition Law, Privacy and Government Contract Compliance teams. Frank joined Microsoft in Paris in August 1994. His responsibilities focused on competition law matters with the European Commission and national governments, software licensing and copyright law and regulatory policy for the Internet. Prior to joining Microsoft, Frank practiced law in San Francisco with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Mr. Frank received his A.B. degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.