Microsoft releases Hotmail, Skype government user data requests

Microsoft has released its first report detailing its compliance with law enforcement user data requests across several consumer services, including Skype.

In 2012 Microsoft was presented 70,655 requests from law enforcement for user data associated with 122,015 accounts.

The report includes requests for Hotmail, Outlook.com; SkyDrive; Xbox LIVE; Microsoft Account; and Office 365. Separate figures are also available for Skype, which are outlined below. The 11,073 requests by US authorities were second only to Turkey, which lodged 11,434 with Microsoft. France, Germany and the UK made between 8,000 and 10,000, while Australian law enforcement filed 2,238.

Worldwide, Microsoft disclosed subscriber and transactional data in 79.8 percent of requests or 56,388 individual disclosures. It disclosed content in 2.2 percent of requests across the globe, totalling 1,558 disclosures. However its level of compliance in the US was higher at 13.9 percent.

In Australia, Microsoft disclosed subscriber or transactional data, but not content in 85 percent of cases (or 1,899 requests). It did not release any content to Australian law enforcement. Microsoft rejected 1.2 percent or 866 customer data requests across the world because they did not meet legal requirements. It rejected 23 of the 2,238 it faced in Australia.

The company also outlined that in 16.8 percent of cases, no customer data was disclosed because none was found.

Microsoft received 4,713 requests for Skype user data concerning 15,409 accounts. It did not release any content in the requests, but between July and December 2012 provided guidance to law enforcement 501 times.

The guidance includes data such as a SkypeID, name, email account, billing information and call detail records if a user subscribed to the Skype In/Online service, which connects to a telephone number.

It faced 195 requests in Australia relating to 424 Skype account and provided assistance to law enforcement in 8 cases.

Rights campaigner Privacy International welcomed the report since it showed the level of access to communication data and urged Facebook to follow suit.

“Paired with transparency data from Google and Twitter we now know that governments around the world made at least 115,000 requests for communications data last year. The addition of Facebook data to that calculation would be of huge assistance in further increasing our understanding of the scale of this practice,” said Carly Nyst, head of international advocacy at the group.

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