Internet Transparency Reports

Google, Twitter and Microsoft report on law enforcement requests


Update: Who's Asking?...

Microsoft starts up a transparency report about the scale of law enforcement requests

Link Here 22nd March 2013

Brad Smith , Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft writes in a blog post:

Today, we are releasing our 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report. This is our first Law Enforcement Requests Report. It provides data on the number of requests we received from law enforcement agencies around the world relating to Microsoft online and cloud services and how we responded to those requests. All of our major online services are covered in this report, including, for example, Hotmail,; SkyDrive; Xbox LIVE; Microsoft Account; and Office 365. We're also making available similar data relating to Skype, which Microsoft acquired in October 2011.

We will update this report every six months.

In recent months, there has been broadening public interest in how often law enforcement agencies request customer data from technology companies and how our industry responds to these requests. Google, Twitter and others have made important and helpful contributions to this discussion by publishing some of their data. 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.

Like others in the industry, we are releasing publicly the total number of requests we receive from law enforcement in countries around the world and the number of potentially affected accounts identified in those requests.

We are also publishing additional data that we hope will provide added insights for our customers and the public who are interested in these issues. For example, we are providing more detailed information that shows the number of law enforcement requests resulting in disclosure to these agencies of "customer content", such as the subject line and body of an email exchanged through; or a picture stored on SkyDrive. We similarly are reporting on the number of law enforcement requests that result in disclosure only of "non-content" data, which includes account information such as an email address, a person's name, country of residence, or gender, or system-generated data such as IP addresses and traffic data.

I've tried to summarize what has struck me as some of the principal trends reflected in the data we're releasing today:

  • First, while we receive a significant number of law enforcement requests from around the world, very few actually result in the disclosure to these agencies of customer content. To be precise, last year Microsoft (including Skype) received 75,378 law enforcement requests for customer information, and these requests potentially affected 137,424 accounts or other identifiers. Only 2.1%, or 1,558 requests, resulted in the disclosure of customer content .

  • It's insightful, I believe, to look at the governments to whom customer content was disclosed. Of the 1,558 disclosures of customer content, more than 99% were in response to lawful warrants from courts in the United States. In fact, there were only 14 disclosures of customer content to governments outside the United States. These were to governments in Brazil, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

  • Of the 56,388 cases where Microsoft (excluding Skype) disclosed some non-content information to law enforcement agencies, more than 66% of these were to agencies in only five countries . These were the U.S., the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany and France. For Skype, the top five countries accounted for 81% of all requests. These countries were the U.K., U.S., Germany, France and Taiwan.

  • Roughly 18% of the law enforcement requests (again, excluding Skype) resulted in the disclosure of no customer information in any form, either because Microsoft rejected the request or because no customer information was found.

  • Finally, while law enforcement requests for information unquestionably are important (and raise important issues around the world), only a tiny percentage of users are potentially affected by them. We have many hundreds of millions of accounts across our online and cloud services. To give you a sense of proportion, we estimate that less than two one-hundredths of  one % (or 0.02%, to put it another way) were potentially affected by law enforcement requests.



Comment: Facebook Transparency...

Facebook outline stats about Government information requests, (at least what they are allowed to by secret police states such as the US and UK)

Link Here 30th August 2013

Facebook writes about their 1st transparency report

Transparency and trust are core values at Facebook. We strive to embody them in all aspects of our services, including our approach to responding to government data requests. We want to make sure that the people who use our service understand the nature and extent of the requests we receive and the strict policies and processes we have in place to handle them.

We are pleased to release our first Global Government Requests Report, which details the following:

The report details the following:
  • Which countries requested information from Facebook about our users
  • The number of requests received from each of those countries
  • The number of users/user accounts specified in those requests
  • The percentage of these requests in which we were required by law to disclose at least some data

The report covers the first 6 months of 2013, ending June 30.

As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests. We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users. We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name.

Data Requests (for countries with 50 or more requests)
  Total Requests Users/Accounts Requested Proportion actioned at least in part
Argentina 152 218 27 %
Australia 546 601 64 %
Belgium 150 169 70 %
Brazil 715 857 33 %
Canada 192 219 44 %
Chile 215 340 68 %
France 1,547 1,598 39 %
Germany 1,886 2,068 37 %
Greece 122 141 54 %
India 3,245 4,144 50 %
Israel 113 132 50 %
Italy 1,705 2,306 53 %
Malta 89 97 60 %
Mexico 78 127 37 %
New Zealand 106 119 58 %
Poland 233 158 9 %
Portugal 177 213 42 %
Singapore 107 117 70 %
Spain 479 715 51 %
Sweden 54 66 54 %
Taiwan 229 329 84 %
Turkey 96 170 47 %
United Kingdom 1,975 2,337 68 %
United States 11,000 - 12,000 20,000 - 21,000 79 %


Comment: Why do we find out more about British snooping in snippets published by American companies than we do from the British authorities themselves?

30th August 2013. See article from

It is absurd that we learn more about Government surveillance from Microsoft, Google and Facebook than our own authorities. These figures were never mentioned during the Parliamentary debate on the draft communications data bill, nor in the annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner's report.

It is particularly concerning that 32% of requests did not result in any data being provided, yet in theory these requests had been signed off as necessary and proportionate by the police force making the request. This should be addressed by the Interception Commissioner and we will be writing to him to make this argument. It also highlights the ongoing questions about the skill base within the police to understand the data that is available -- far, far more than ever before.

What we do not know from these figures is how many requests were made through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process (which involves a formal legal request being made through the US legal system) and how many were voluntarily complied with by Facebook. This is also the case with other companies.

Ultimately, it should not be for US companies to be the ones publishing data on how our own police forces are using these powers. It is impossible to have a realistic debate about capability gaps and how powers are being used if we do not have the data, and the Government should be far more proactive in publishing information.



Offsite Article: Apple reports on government requests for information...

Link Here 7th November 2013
But is there any point when companies can't mention the mass snooping

See article from



Update: Searching for More Censorship...

Google reports a 68% increase in government requests to censor its content

Link Here 23rd December 2013
Google recently published an update to its semi-annual Transparency Report, and the latest figures show an ongoing increase in the efforts of governments around the world to censor content on services like Google and YouTube.

The new figures show that governments made 3,846 takedown requests in the first half of 2013, which is up from 2,285 requests in the previous six month period, a 68% increase. Plus of course the requests that Google is not allowed to tell us about. The published requests targeted 24,737 pieces of content.

Google says it complied in only one third of the cases. Google refers to the requests as censorship and cited:

[A] worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests.

The increase in this report appears tied to a spike in requests from Turkey, which demanded the most takedowns of any country (1,673). The second biggest number came from the United States (545), which was followed by Brazil, Russia and India.


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