No Skype content data handed to governments, claims Microsoft

Secret document

Microsoft disclosed no Skype content data to governments in the first six months of 2013, according to the company’s latest transparency report.

The organisation received 3,509 requests globally for information relating to 10,585 individual Skype customer accounts.

In 82 per cent of cases some data was handed over, but the actual content of messages or calls was not disclosed.

In the UK, 759 requests were made for data regarding 1,564 Skype accounts.

The vast majority (86.3 per cent) resulted in only subscriber/transactional data being handed over. However, a further four per cent of requests were rejected by the company, while in 9.7 per cent of cases no data was found.

According to Microsoft, the US, UK, France and Germany accounted for a combined 70 per cent of all requests for Skype user data.

Furthermore, the UK was in the top five countries requesting user data from Microsoft operations, along with the US, Germany, Turkey and France, who together made 73 per cent of all requests.

Most of the requests submitted by governments relate to personal users of cloud-based tools rather than those related to business, the company claimed.

“In the context of our enterprise services...we addressed a total of 19 requests for e-mail accounts we host for entities, such as universities or other businesses. Those 19 requests sought information about 48 accounts. We disclosed customer data in response to five of those requests (4 content; 1 only non-content), and in all but one case, we were able to notify the customer," the report said.

"We rejected the request, found no responsive data, or redirected law enforcement to obtain the information from the customer directly in 13 of those cases."

This is the second of Microsoft’s Law Enforcement Requests reports, the first having been published in March 2013 in the wake of the PRISM surveillance scandal.

“Microsoft remains committed to respecting human rights, free expression, and individual privacy. We seek to operate all of the services we own in a manner that’s consistent with our Global Human Rights Statement and responsibilities as a member of the Global Network Initiative,” the company said.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.