Microsoft details how much of your data the Feds want

Last month Google released a transparency report revealing how often law enforcement inquires about users' private data. Hint: it's more often than you want to believe. Not to be outdone, today Microsoft posts its own data, which the company refers to as the "2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report".

While the number of requests may seem staggering, there is some perspective to be had in all of this. First the raw data reported -- "Microsoft and Skype received a total of 75,378 law enforcement requests. Those requests potentially impacted 137,424 accounts". Sounds rather high doesn't it?

However, Microsoft is a huge company, with vast web properties, so that number, large as it may seem, includes only 0.02 percent of active users. The company has many hundreds of millions of accounts across its online and cloud services. Even more promising for privacy advocates, the company claims to have disclosed content in only 2.2 percent of the instances. Also while Microsoft operates in over a hundred countries around the world, the company discloses data in just 46 -- rest assured that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not be receiving the software giant's help.

Microsoft reports that the "data covers law enforcement requests and/or court orders Microsoft received in calendar year 2012 related to our online and cloud services – including, for example, Hotmail/Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Microsoft Account, Messenger and Office 365".

The small percentage of users affected, and the even tinier amount of data disclosed, is heartening. We all want law enforcement to be able to do its job when it comes to stopping terrorists and hackers, we just don't want them snooping on the average citizen because he or she happens to have political or religious leanings that they find unagreeable.

Photo Credit: Lasse Kristensen/Shut

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