Microsoft received almost 25,000 requests for consumer data from law enforcement over the past six months

25% were rejected, and it's less than 2013's figure... but be wary of what Redmond does with your information


Microsoft has had a busy six months if its latest biannual digital trust report is anything to go by as law enforcement agencies crept closer to making 25,000 legal requests.

Requests for consumer data reached 24,798 during the second half of 2020, up from 24,093 during the previous six-month period, and quite a jump from the 21,781 for the same period in 2019.

"Non-content data" requests, which require a subpoena (or local equivalent), accounted for just over half of disclosures and were slightly down on the same period in 2019. Microsoft rejected 25.81 per cent of requests in the last six months of 2020, up on the 20.14 per cent of the same period in 2019.

As for where those requests came from, Microsoft highlighted a handful of countries including Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The US was the worst offender (going by quantity of requests) accounting for 5,682 (up from 4,315 for same period in 2019). Germany was not far behind with 4,976 (up from 3,310) while the UK submitted 3,558 requests (a small increase from 3,312 for the same period in 2019).

As well as consumer data, Microsoft received 109 requests from law enforcement agencies for enterprise cloud customer data in the second half of 2020. It was unable to bat back 40, where the company was "compelled" to provide some information. "19 cases," it said, "required the disclosure of some customer content, and in 21 of the cases we were compelled to disclose non-content information only."

Still, while that 25,000 figure may seem a little worrying, it is considerably less than the first sets of figures made available by Microsoft. For the latter half of 2013 the total requests were above 35,000.

Away from the criminal side of things, Microsoft also received a comparatively small number of emergency and civil legal requests. Of the latter, it rejected just over 75 per cent in the latter half of 2020.

The report makes for fascinating reading and, while the company is to be applauded for publishing it, the accompanying Privacy Report is an occasionally grim reminder of just how much information Microsoft can slurp from users. Particularly if the customer concerned decides to be helpful and check that Optional diagnostic data box.

Microsoft browser history, anyone? ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022