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Microsoft Says U.S. Foreign Surveillance Requests Have Doubled

Microsoft says surveillance requests from the federal government doubled during the first half of last year.

According to Microsoft's biannual transparency report released this week, Microsoft said it received at least one thousand requests from the U.S. government seeking information on users for foreign intelligence purposes.

That number is double the amount Microsoft received during the second half of 2015.

Image: The Microsoft logo on the facade of a Microsoft Center.
The Microsoft logo on the facade of a Miscrosoft Center. Matthias Balk / Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/d

Related: Microsoft Sues Feds to Say When the Government Asks for Your Emails

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, companies are only allowed to give a wide range and are not able to disclose the exact number of requests they have received. In this case, Microsoft could only reveal they fielded somewhere between 1,000 and 1,499 orders.

While it seems surveillance may be increasing, the number of impacted accounts actually fell, compared to the previous report. Microsoft said the number of accounts impacted was between 12,000 and 12,499, about five thousand less than the previous period.

Microsoft also disclosed a national security letter it received from the FBI in 2014, seeking information about a customer of Microsoft's consumer services, according to the company.

Twitter, Google , Yahoo and others have disclosed national security letters in recent months thanks to a measure in the USA Freedom Act.