Microsoft launch their new transparency website yesterday, bringing together all their existing transparency reports, including the Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report. The website also includes a new transparency report that details the requests that Microsoft received from a variety of parties seeking the removal of online content. The company’s reports break down requests into three categories, takedown requests based on alleged violations of local laws and Microsoft’s terms of service, copyright takedowns and takedowns performed as the result of “right to be forgotten” requests in Europe.
With it being no secret about the European court being all over Google like a bad rash regarding “the right to be forgotten,” it comes as no surprise that Bing has become the main focus of these reports. That’s not to mention users Windows 10 privacy concerns alongside Cortana also using Bing as its default search engine. It appears as a result of this combination and users being more aware of their rights to be forgotten, that data removal requests are on the rise. Copyright takedown requests were by far the most common worldwide with Microsoft receiving more than 1 million total requests to remove links from Bing that people claimed infringed on their copyrights.
That leads us quite nicely to the next section of this article, are you ready to put your tin foil hat on? The government data requests section might be the one section that most people will be interested in. As the report shows requests for user data from government agencies are on the rise when compared to last year’s requests. Although the number is still relatively low, from the second half of 2014 it is up from 31,002 to 35,228. Furthermore, Microsoft appears to have become stricter on how it deals with those requests rejecting 4,383 of them for not meeting its legal requirements. That’s nearly twice as many rejected as it did in the last half of 2014. Microsoft goes on to state that just 3 percent of requests from law enforcement agencies resulted in the disclosure of customer content.
Microsoft is currently involved in a lawsuit regarding the U.S. government requesting that they hand over data from a data centre in Ireland. This doesn’t mean Government agencies are not obtaining our data in other ways right?. A quick side note, I found it entertaining that China filed 165 takedown requests for content it did not want consumers to see. To put that into perspective, that is almost eight times as many as all other countries requests combined.
It seems clear that Microsoft appears to be taking their responsibility of user data seriously. Are you worried about the Government getting hold of all your searches? Let us know in the comments below
Thank you Microsoft for providing us with this information