In the period from July to December 2020, Microsoft was asked 24,798 times by a government agency to disclose user information. The company turned down more than a quarter of these requests.
According to Microsoft’s report, the requests came mainly from the United States. That country is responsible for 5682 requests. Germany also did its best with 4976 requests, as did the UK with 3312 requests. The requests applied to more than 45,000 users in total. Brazil and France are also mentioned as countries that made many data requests.
Considerable increase, but no record
This is a considerable increase compared to previous periods: in the first half of 2020, Microsoft received 24,093 requests and in the second half of 2019 only 21,781. The number of rejections has also risen. Those occured at around 20 percent of the times in 2019. 25,000 may sound like a huge number, but it is by no means a record for the company. That was the case in the second half of 2013, when the company received more than 35,000 data requests.
Enterprise cloud requests as well
The requests were not only for consumer information. In the second half of 2019, Microsoft also received 109 requests for information about customers of Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services. Of these, the company complied with 40 to some extent. In 19 of the cases, the company shared content from the customers, and in 21 cases, Microsoft was only forced to share information without content.
Mainly for criminal law
For the most part, the requested information is used for criminal cases. However, a small proportion of the requests are also for urgent and civil cases. In the past six months, Microsoft has been able to turn down 75 percent of these cases.
Google also shares transparency reports
Microsoft is not the only company that regularly makes public the extent to which government authorities have requested access to personal data of its customers. Google also regularly releases a transparency report. At the end of 2019, it announced that it would be supplementing the information in the report with data requests for the Google Cloud Platform and Workspace.