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Microsoft: We Offer Up User Data To Law Enforcement 2 Percent of the Time 54

Nerval's Lobster writes "In its second announcement of the kind, Microsoft revealed [Friday] that it received more than 37,000 requests for information on customers of its Skype, Azure and other services from law enforcement agencies around the world. The count does not include requests made using "National Security Letters" issued by the FBI or other U.S. federal agencies that have the force of a warrant or subpoena, albeit without the oversight or control provided by the courts that issue those sorts of orders. During the first six months of 2013, Microsoft received 37,196 requests that covered a total of 66,539 customer accounts. The company refused to provide any information in response to 21 percent of those requests. It provided "non-content data" in response to 77 percent of the requests – non-content data usually includes information such as names or basic subscriber information rather than information on the content of messages or other details describing online activity of those customers. In 2.19 percent of cases, however, Microsoft reports having provided "customer content data" – which includes the content of messages or data stored in accounts owned by Microsoft companies. Ninety-two percent of requests for customer content came from U.S. law-enforcement agencies."
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Microsoft: We Offer Up User Data To Law Enforcement 2 Percent of the Time

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  • MShafted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrDoh! ( 71235 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:29AM (#44978391) Homepage Journal
    Amazing how they thought the Scroogled attack ads were a good idea when they're handing nearly everything over too.
    • by Bozzio ( 183974 )

      I've only seen one Scroogled ad but it was pretty clearly nothing but a thinly veiled smear campaign/Outlook.com ad.

      BUT, how can you say "they're handing nearly everything over too?" Even the summary states they hand over very little. Much less than I had anticipated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dmbasso ( 1052166 )

        Even the summary states they hand over very little. Much less than I had anticipated.

        If you believe them. I mean, we all should believe everything they broadcast, right? Like Mr. Clapper rubbing his forehead while saying in the congress hearing "we do not willingly collect any data on American citizens". Yeah, sure.

      • by MrDoh! ( 71235 )
        A single request of information can include a LOT of people/time frame.
      • My comment is completely off topic. I have come across a couple of the scroogled adds. I have to say that I am not impressed by Microsoft's recent add campaigns. Watching their commercials and seeing their adds around the internet, I get the impression of a spoiled child not getting their way so they last out and throw a tantrum. Am I right or wrong in that? I don't know, but that is the impression I get from Microsoft's advertising.
      • Even the summary states they hand over very little.

        Did you notice that the 2% figure is 2% of the law enforcement queries that did NOT involve National Security Letters?

        It's pretty safe to assume that the NSA uses National Security Letters for all their "requests"...

        • To me it reads more as 'excludes requests where they are required to provide the data'. So they are giving out data in 2% of cases where they are not required to do so...

      • Even the summary states they hand over very little. Much less than I had anticipated.


        The count does not include requests made using "National Security Letters" issued by the FBI or other U.S. federal agencies that have the force of a warrant or subpoena, albeit without the oversight or control provided by the courts that issue those sorts of orders.

        So the report is on a subset of the requests they receive and the most regulated subset at that. The request that bypass the judicial system (and arguable the US Constitution) aren't included.

      • whose account is this? no, that's nobody. how about this? nope. this? nope too. what about this? yeah, that's the one. send everything. In 75% of cases, only non-content data was supplied.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:40AM (#44978415)

    What the summary actually says is that they offer up user data to law enforcement 77% of the time.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @08:27AM (#44978599) Homepage Journal

      what it _actually_ means is that 77% of the time law enforcement has bothered to go through the legal track and 23% of the time it's just some duud agent/officer calling MS up "hey givez data!".

      and in 2% of cases they requested content data.

      however - this is just the LEGALLY requested data - relating to just normal legal police work, like for finding address of some blackmailer and what have you. there can be no mention of the intercepts they're not allowed to talk that even happened... so that data is NOT in these stats so these stats are just smokescreen. the metadata dumps are an entirely different animal!

      • It's important to point out this is not including warrant requests or those "NSA letters", both of which are legally binding, and are presumably fulfilled 100% of the time.

        This is just some police guy walking in, warrantless, and asking for info. 77% of "metadata" bullshit, and 2.2% of detailed content.

  • And what percentage of the overall information did they actually include in the 2% of requests?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      That one special NSL covers everybody in the USA for the duration of the war of terror :).
      The published stats are just local law enforcement "faxing" in requests with real court warrants.
      The denied ones are just law enforcement hoping a letter head will work as court warrant and then having to go back to get a real court warrant.
  • Note the wording. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:43AM (#44978431)

    I've never heard the expression "customer content data" before. It seems to exclude metadata, which is one of the major things that the NSA spectacle is about.

    Basically, given the things they cannot say anything about (even to deny), it's fairly clear that Microsoft is handing everything over to the NSA (which isn't a law-enforcement agency, you'll note) using an automated mechanism. Probably one that the NSA constructed themselves, having access to everything Microsoft has and is (also known as "full coöperation").

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      In the Land of America where the Contractors lie.
      One Letter to surveil them all, One Letter to find them,
      One Letter to bring them all and in the black site bind them
  • by Nuffsaid ( 855987 )
    "Ninety-two percent of requests for customer content came from U.S. law-enforcement agencies."

    The remaining 8% of request came from various Mafia agencies, I suppose. This raises the obvious question: did Microsoft comply with them in the same proportions as with requests coming from U.S. law-enforcement agencies?
  • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:55AM (#44978475)

    Even Slashdot's editors don't know the value of metadata, calling it "non-content data", at least on the front page post? Click through the link and read the sub-headline: "Microsoft provided metadata in 77 percent of more than 37,000 law-enforcement requests for information".

    Your metadata is as valuable as the content [wired.com]. Otherwise, why would the NSA and Facebook invest so much in it?

    • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:58AM (#44978489)

      From Microsoft's FAQ:

      Non-content data refers to basic subscriber information, such as the e-mail address, name, location and IP address captured at the time of registration. Below is an example of exactly what law enforcement receives when Microsoft produces basic subscriber information, using a test account registered by a Microsoft employee. Although we changed the name and are masking the extension for security reasons, all other information is exactly what Microsoft produces to law enforcement.
      Field Value
      Login First.Last@xxxxxxx.com
      PUID 0006BFFDA0FF8810
      First Name First
      Last Name Last
      State Washington
      Zip 98052
      Country US
      Timezone America/Los_Angeles
      Registered from IP
      Date Registered {Pacific} 10/24/2007 1:05:18 PM
      Gender M
      Last Login IP

      The PUID in the above table stands for âoePersonal User ID,â which is a unique alpha-numeric code generated for each registered Microsoft account. Other non-content data may include IP connection history, an Xbox Gamertag, and credit card or other billing information. We require an official, document based request, such as a subpoena, before we will consider disclosing non-content data to law enforcement.

  • by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @08:00AM (#44978499)

    A non-warrant with the force of a warrant...talk about your 4th Amendment workarounds!

    If there is enough lack of urgency to bother drafting a letter, why is there not enough time to seek a proper warrant?

    That's a rhetorical question. I think most people can infer the real answer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A non-warrant with the force of a warrant

      Worse than that - it's a warrant with a gag order.

  • The lack of resistance is so much more so. A big chance to see if we live in a free country, and we're blowing it. What kind of reflection is that on us?

  • Should be 0% or 100% (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:11AM (#44978817)

    Where I used to work we gave 100% IF THERE WAS A COURT ORDER. Otherwise we gave nothing. There should be no exception.

    One time police officers came in asking for data and they were escorted out with the insight that we would get the data aside and IF they would be coming back within the week with a court order, we would have it ready. If later, we would have to look for it again.

    More then once have I told officials to take a hike. And this about serious crimes where I am completely willing to go the extra mile once they give me the court order.

    The issue I have is that if I would give the information without a court order, I would be guilty of breaking the law. However they are still allowed to ask for it and they do, trying to use their imaginary authority to impress some who might be more gullible.

    • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @09:34AM (#44978943) Journal

      And if you had broken the law by giving them the data, would you subsequently have been under investigation?

      Are your choices basically,

      1. Refuse without a court order, the legally correct thing to do, earning their ire and petty retributive investigations of yourself later
      2. Give them the data when they ask, regardless of court order, opening yourself up to prosecution for that very act?
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        No, no investigation later. If they would insist, they would need to take it by force. That would mean more then likely the end of their career.
        Perhaps this does not happen in every country in the world, but it happens in free countries, like Belgium, where I live.

  • 2% of requests overall get message content, or 2% of requests that specifically ask for message content?

    It'd be in Microsoft's interest to dilute the hell out of this number.

  • Help yourself to the data : 98% of the time
    • Nope. "Help yourself to the data: 100% of the time". Then dig through the data looking for something interesting. When you find it, come up with a plausible alternate and aboveboard means that you could suspect its existence, and present that to a judge for a warrant, at which point you get the data through traceable means, and use if for prosecution. That's "parallel construction".

  • Microsoft are the best good guys in the world and that Linux is a horrible person that can't say developers four times in a row!
  • "Microsoft: We Offer Up User Data To Law Enforcement 2 Percent of the Time"

    The other 98% of the time Law Enforcement actually requests it first!

  • If MS satisfies only 2% of the requests, it means that the requestor has to send them, on average, 50 copies of the same request. MS then rejects the first 49 copies and approves the last one.

    But, as other posters already said, what is MS doing by deciding which requests to satisfy? MS is not part of the justice system in the USA. They should only respond to proper, court-authorized orders, and reject all others. I cannot imagine that 98% of all requests come from rent-a-cops from the mall. So who is it

Many aligators will be slain, but the swamp will remain.