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June 15, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Microsoft releases government security requests tally

[This post has been updated to include the number of requests Microsoft received from the U.S. government in all of 2012, according to its previously released 2012 law enforcement requests report.]

Microsoft has released some more information on the national security and law enforcement requests and orders it received, following approval by the federal government to do so.

“For the first time, we are permitted to include the total volume of national security orders, which may include FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] orders, in this reporting,” John Frank, a Microsoft deputy general counsel, said in an official blog post. “We are still not permitted to confirm whether we have received any FISA orders, but if we were to have received any they would now be included in our aggregate volumes.”

For the six months running from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2012, Microsoft says it received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders from local, state and federal governments. Those orders affected between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts — a “tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base,” Frank wrote.

If there were any FISA orders or directives among those requests, it has been aggregated with all the others, as directed by the U.S. government, Frank said. The government also required that such totals be presented in tranches of 1,000.

Microsoft had previously published a law enforcement requests report for all of 2012. That report had not included any FISA orders or directives, if any, because national security orders had prohibited Microsoft from even disclosing their existence, Frank said.

That report had disclosed that Microsoft had received 11,073  U.S. law enforcement requests or orders in 2012. (Microsoft, excluding Skype, received 70,665 total requests from governments around the world in that year.)

Microsoft says it has not received “any national security orders of the type that Verizon was reported to have received that required Verizon to provide business records about U.S. customers.”

Facebook, too, disclosed more information on its government security and law enforcement requests tally, saying that between July and December 2012, it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests affecting the accounts of between 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users. Facebook said this was a “tiny fraction” of its more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: fisa, law enforcement requests


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