Microsoft Follows Facebook In Releasing Government Request Data To The Public
Ryan Martin / 3 years ago
Microsoft, Google and Facebook all joined together recently to demand more transparency about government data requests and being able to reveal details of these to their user base. Facebook recently revealed that it had to release data on some some 19,000 individuals at the legal request of the American government. Yet it was disappointed by being relatively constrained in what data it could release, it was still unable to release details on secret/spy requests that everyone really wants to know about.
Microsoft finds itself in a more or less identical situation as it has been given permission to reveal basic details about government data requests, although nothing on spy requests. Microsoft revealed it received between 6000 and 7000 criminal and national security warrants. It received a further 31,000 to 32,000 subpoenas and orders on consumer accounts. All of this took place in the last 6 months of 2012.
Essentially Microsoft has been able to clump national security with criminal warrants. National security warrants would mean anything to do with PRISM or FISA so we know that the U.S government made less than 7000 PRISM or FISA data requests to Microsoft. Obviously if you account for the criminal warrants then the PRISM/FISA requests are probably much smaller, I would hazard a guess at less than 1000, but we cannot truly know until Microsoft publish (or are allowed to publish) the details.
Microsoft’s statement read:
“This afternoon, the FBI and DOJ have given us permission to publish some additional data, and we are publishing it straight away. However, we continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues. We are permitted to publish data on national security orders received (including, if any, FISA Orders and FISA Directives), but only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; only for the six-month period of July 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2012; only if the totals are presented in bands of 1,000; and all Microsoft consumer services had to be reported together”
While Microsoft is jumping on the privacy bandwagon let us not forget that Microsoft is accused of using its Skype VoIP service to spy on its users, monitor their calls and scan their text chats. In fact this is why Skype has been so wrapped up in the PRISM program because the opportunity to voice chat spy on millions of users has clearly been very useful to the NSA.
Image courtesy of Microsoft