Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it had no direct involvement in a recently uncovered National Security Agency program called PRISM, which monitors and analyses Internet data. At the time, Microsoft said it only revealed information it has gathered from law enforcement and government agencies "when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis."
Late on Friday, Microsoft offered up some more details on how much information it has given to US law enforcement groups via court orders. In a post on its Microsoft on the Issues blog, the company stated it was finally able to be more open with its requests thanks to permission from the FBI and the Department of Justice. Microsoft added:
However, we continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues.
Microsoft stated that for the second half of 2012, it had received "between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders" from various US government agencies. Those requests affected between 31,000 and 32,000 Microsoft consumer accounts.
The requests came from local, state and federal groups. Those numbers may or may not include requests ordered under the US government's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Microsoft stated, "We are still not permitted to confirm whether we have received any FISA orders, but if we were to have received any they would now be included in our aggregate volumes."
In March, Microsoft revealed that for all of 2012 it had received 75,378 law enforcement requests for information from around the world, including 11,073 requests from US government agencies.