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.