Microsoft today published its latest series of biannual transparency reports on the Microsoft Transparency Hub. These reports consist of the Law Enforcement Requests Report and the U.S. National Security Orders Report, as well as the Content Removal Requests Report.
In this latest release, the Law Enforcement Requests Report and the U.S. National Security Orders Report covering the period from January to June 2016, show little fluctuation in law enforcement request statistics from our previous report which covered the last six months of 2015.
- Microsoft received a total number of 35,572 legal requests for customer information from law enforcement agencies in the first half of 2016. This reflects a decrease from the 39,083 requests received for the second half of 2015.
- Just over 2.5 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.
- For the latest Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) data reported, Microsoft received 0-499 FISA orders seeking disclosure of content impacting 17,500-17,999 accounts, up from the 0-499 FISA orders seeking disclosure of content impacting 15,500-15,999 accounts reported for the previous period. We received 0-499 National Security Letters in the latest reporting period, the same as the previous period. While the number of FISA orders remained in the same band as prior periods, they covered a larger number of accounts.
Similarly, the latest Content Removal Requests Report shows very similar acceptance rates to the previous reporting period for requests to remove content from governments, copyright holders and individuals subject to the European Union’s “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling and non-consensual pornography.
We continue to believe transparency is an important part of building trust in technology. While these reports document the overall total volume of requests we receive from governments around the world, we think there are other important steps that can be taken to further increase transparency and accountability.
In April, we filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government challenging what we believe is the routine use of secrecy orders, which prevent us – often indefinitely – from notifying some individuals when the government seeks their data. We believe that with rare exceptions consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their emails or records, just as they would if the government was seeking access to documents they have stored in their home. Secrecy orders should be adapted to what’s necessary for the investigation, and no more.
Yet it’s becoming routine for the U.S. government to issue orders that require email providers to keep these types of legal demands secret. And in many cases these secrecy orders contain no fixed end date. We believe that this goes too far and we are asking the courts to address the situation. Earlier this month more than 90 individuals and organizations including Apple, Google, Amazon, Mozilla, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, BP America, GlaxoSmithKline, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, and five former federal law enforcement officials signed friend-of-the-court briefs in our case. We believe this is an important issue for our customers – and for people more broadly – and we appreciated the strong support we’ve received for raising these issues.
To learn more about the information contained in these reports, please visit www.microsoft.com/transparency.