Microsoft's transparency report details law enforcement requests

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Microsoft is following in the footsteps of other tech giants like Google and Twitter by releasing a transparency report that outlines requests for information from law enforcement officials. In it, Redmond said they received 75,378 requests for customer information across 137,424 accounts in 2012.

The report takes things a bit further than the aforementioned companies as Microsoft released details about the number of disclosures related to specific content like the subject line of an e-mail or a photo stored on SkyDrive. They are also reporting requests that result in disclosure of information like a person’s name, gender, country of residence, or IP address, according to Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith.

Privacy advocates may applaud the fact that Microsoft only disclosed information on 1,558 requests, or about 2.1 percent. Of those requests, more than 99 percent were handed over only in response to a warrant from a US court.

Only 14 disclosures were made to governments in Brazil, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand, we are told. Microsoft said 56,388 cases resulted in the disclosure of non-customer content from agencies in Germany, France, Turkey, the US and the UK.

The report includes the company’s online and cloud services including Hotmail, Office 365, Sky Drive, Skype and Xbox Live. Skype received 4,713 requests across 15,409 accounts although we are told that no content was provided in response to these requests. Only non-content data was handed over.

Moving forward, Microsoft plans to update the report on a bi-annual basis.

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