Microsoft sees rise in government data demands, but fewer national security orders

More than three-quarters of all law enforcement requests were submitted by the US, the UK, Turkey, France, and Germany.

Microsoft has released its latest transparency figures for the second half of 2015, ending December.

(Image: file photo via CNET/CBS Interactive)

It's the latest report from the tech giant detailing how many demands the company gets from US and global law enforcement, and intelligence agencies.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced a near-11 percent rise in legal requests over the first half of the year, but did not say what the reason for the increase was.

In total, the company received 39,083 demands for customer data from law enforcement agencies, affecting 64,614 accounts across the world.

In two-thirds of cases, only subscriber data -- such as a person's name, email address, country of residence, gender, and IP addresses and traffic data -- was disclosed.

In about two percent of cases -- roughly 975 separate demands -- the company was compelled to turn over content data, like Outlook.com emails, Skype instant messages, or data stored in OneDrive.

Any "emergency requests," such as when there is an immediate threat to life, are not included in the total figure. Microsoft accepted 405 demands impacting 505 separate accounts from law enforcement agencies from around the world during the six-month period.

On an enterprise basis, Microsoft received 14 requests from law enforcement relating to 35 enterprise accounts. The company rejected nine cases, but turned over five accounts in four separate occasions.

A case relating to one enterprise account is still pending.

Breaking down the figures, more than three-quarters of all requests made during the six-month period came from the US, the UK Turkey, France, and Germany -- all of which have faced an increased threat of terror during the period.

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On cases relating to national security, Microsoft and other companies remain subject to heavy reporting restrictions.

Since the introduction of the Freedom Act last year, the Justice Dept. has eased in how it allows companies to report classified orders they received from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court.

Companies can now report the number of secret demands they receive in narrower bands between zero and 500 requests, down from 1,000.

But tech companies are still subject to a six-month delay in reporting these secret demands.

Microsoft received fewer than 500 secret demands for content impacting between 15,500-15,999 accounts during the first-half of 2015, down from 0-999 secret orders for content impacting 18,000-18,999 accounts during the second-half of previous year.

The company also received fewer than 500 national security letters during the first-half of 2015, down from fewer than 1,000 during the second-half of 2014.

Given the recent spate of terror attacks across Europe, and the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the biggest terrorist attack on US soil since the September 11 attacks, the government is expected to increase the number of national security requests during the the next reporting quarter.

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