Microsoft updates and expands latest biannual reports on our Transparency Hub

Microsoft today published its latest series of biannual reports on the Microsoft Transparency Hub, including for the first time information on the number of requests the company receives for the removal of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos of individuals published online without their consent.

The process to enable requests for the removal of this content – sometimes referred to as nonconsensual pornography or “revenge porn’’ – is the result of Microsoft’s commitment last year to help put victims back in control of their images and their privacy by encouraging them to request removals through a dedicated request form.

According to its latest Content Removal Requests Report, Microsoft received 537 requests between July and December 2015 either to remove links to revenge porn photos or videos from Bing search results, or to remove access to the content itself when shared on OneDrive or Xbox Live. As a result, the company took action on 338 of those requests after determining they met the criteria for removal. In cases where we have not yet accepted a request, it is usually either because we have asked for more information to be able to make a determination on the request, or because the content in question does not contain nudity, identify the victim in the image, or otherwise meet generally accepted definitions of “revenge porn.”

Additionally, the report details requests to remove content from governments, copyright holders and individuals subject to the European Union’s “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling.

Microsoft also released its latest Law Enforcement Requests Report and the U.S. National Security Orders Report covering the period from July to December 2015. (Note: Requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are subject to a six-month reporting delay.)

These reports show little fluctuation in law enforcement request statistics from our previous report which covered the first six months of 2015:

  • Microsoft received a total number of 39,083 legal requests for customer information from law enforcement agencies in the second half of 2015. This reflects an increase over the 35,228 requests received for the first half of 2015.
  • Just over 2 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 passage of the USA Freedom Act enabled us to report Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests and National Security Letters (NSLs) in narrower ranges of bands of 500 versus 1,000. For the latest FISA data reported, Microsoft received 0-499 FISA Orders seeking disclosure of content impacting 15,500-15,999 accounts, which compares with 0-999 FISA Orders seeking disclosure of content impacting 18,000-18,999 accounts reported for the previous period. We received 0-499 National Security Letters in the latest reporting period versus 0-999 in the previous period.
  • Requests from law enforcement agencies in five countries – United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, France and Germany – represent 76.8 percent of total requests in the second half of 2015. This pattern is similar to the one we’ve seen since we began reporting this detail, with these countries representing the majority of requests.
  • In addition to requests from law enforcement agencies, Microsoft receives legal demands for customer data from civil litigation parties around the world. Microsoft adheres to the same principles for all requests from civil proceeding legal requests as it does for government agencies requests for user data, requiring non-governmental civil litigants to follow the applicable laws, rules and procedures for requesting customer data. For the first time, we have provided data on civil litigation requests to accompany our Law Enforcement Requests Report.

We believe transparency is an important part of building trust in technology. The information contained in these reports and the detailed FAQ that we publish on our processes is intended to help our customers and stakeholders understand more about what we do, and the kind of information governments around the world request. We hope this transparency can contribute to the broader public discussion around the world on the kind of laws that should govern modern technology. Just as we’ve added additional data to today’s reports, we’ll continue to look for other ways to increase transparency.

About the Author

Director of Corporate Responsibility