Industry News

Microsoft Reveals How it Assists Global Police with Data Requests

In its first transparency report, Microsoft revealed how it helped police worldwide with information on the company’s users. In 2012, the company assisted some 75.378 police requests for client information linked to ongoing criminal investigations.

Some 2.1 percent of these requests sought information on content created by people, including documents, images and e-mails stored on servers or sent via Microsoft services. In 99 percent of the cases, police in the US demanded Microsoft details about creators of content, images, texts and such.

Most commonly, Microsoft disclosed non-content info, but general information on customer content, such as login names, subscriber information or IP addresses. The police units in the US, France, Turkey, Germany and the UK were interested in these kinds of details.

The UK police focused most on data linked to Skype (with 1.268 of the total 4.713 Skype requests), demanding access to account details (names and e-mails) of some 2,720 users. United States and Germany followed UK in these demands. Users should know that no conversations over Skype were record to be sent to authorities.

In some 18 percent of cases, Microsoft was unable to offer information.

All 2012 requests covered some 137,424 accounts on Microsoft’s popular services, including Xbox Live, Hotmail,, SkyDrive, Microsoft Account, Messenger, Office 365 and Skype.

With this, Microsoft joins the club of high-profile companies, including Google and Twitter, that collaborate with police worldwide and give away customer data harvested through their most popular services.

“We’ve benefited from the opportunity to learn from them and their experience, and we seek to build further on the industry’s commitment to transparency by releasing our own data today,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel in a blog post.

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.