A collection of e-mails and invoices obtained by the Syrian Electronic Army claims to show how much Microsoft charges a secret division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to legally collect and view information about its customers.
The Daily Dot was recently granted access to the documents which outline months of dealings between the Redmond-based company’s Global Criminal Compliance team and the FBI’s Digital Intercept Technology Unit (DITU). According to the publication’s write-up, Microsoft charges between $50 and $200 per request.
That may not sound like much but it certainly adds up pretty quick. For example, an invoice dated November 2013 totaled $281,000. Assuming the cheapest and most expensive fees, that’s anywhere between 1,405 and 5,620 requests.
Unsurprisingly, neither the FBI nor Microsoft would confirm the validity of the documents although a specialist told the publication that there was no indication that the documents weren’t legit.
Microsoft did say that regarding law enforcement requests, there’s nothing unusual here as under US law, companies can request reimbursement for costs associated with complying with valid legal orders for customer data. The Microsoft spokesperson said they attempt to recover some of the costs associated with any such orders.
True enough, the fact that such activity takes place isn’t anything we didn’t already know about. If nothing else, however, the leaks reveal just how often the government pings big companies like Microsoft regarding customer data.