This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT made a large number of data requests to Microsoft about its users in the first half of this year, the company has reported, and the firm delivered on about 80 percent of them.
Microsoft's transparency report for the first half of 2013 showed that in the six months between January and June the firm received 37,196 requests from US law enforcement agencies that potentially affected 66,539 accounts.
This is pretty much in line with 2012 figures. For that full year Microsoft got 75,378 requests on 137,424 accounts.
Not all of these requests were fulfilled, and Microsoft said that it didn't disclose data in nearly 21 percent of the requests. Of course the figures have a disclaimer, and Microsoft reminded readers that it cannot discuss national security orders, so these were not included in the report. Microsoft and others have asked permission to release more information.
There is a top five list of countries that make up the bulk of requests. These were the US, Turkey, Germany, the UK and France. Together they made 73 percent of requests. More or less the same countries and numbers are reflected in Skype requests.
"For Skype the requests were similarly concentrated, with four countries, the US, UK, France and Germany, accounting for over 70 percent of requests," noted Microsoft.
In total the US made 7,014 data requests to Microsoft about 18,809 accounts. Skype, which it broke out with separate numbers, had 978 requests for 3,507 accounts. Of the requests that resulted in the disclosure of customer content, 92 percent were from US law enforcement agencies.
In the UK 4,404 requests were made on 6,723 Microsoft accounts. For Skype the numbers were 759 and 1,564.
Last week Yahoo reported that in the US there were 12,444 requests for data from 40,322 user accounts in the same period. In the UK there were 1,709 requests on 2,832 accounts. Yahoo rejected around 500 of these, and disclosed content 347 times.
The US made 12,832 data requests to Yahoo on 40,322 accounts. It walked away with data around 10,000 times. Yahoo rejected just two percent of US data requests and 27 percent of UK requests. µ
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