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Microsoft details government requests for data

Microsoft law

Microsoft issued a report Thursday listing the number of requests for user data made by government agencies, as well as the amount complied with in one way or another.

The report covers all of 2012, although Microsoft says it plans to release this information every six months from now on. Google has issued a similar report for several years.

Overall, Microsoft received 70,665 requests for data on a total of 122,015 users. Turkey made the most requests, with 11,434, followed by the U.S. with 11,073, then next were the U.K., France and Germany.

The U.S., however, led the world in the number of requests actually producing content — which Microsoft defines as "the subject or body of an email, photos stored in SkyDrive, address book information, and calendars." In fact, nearly all the disclosures including content were for requests originating in the United States.

Globally, about 80 percent of requests ended up producing some data, even if it was just a user name or IP address. In contrast, Google produced data for around 66 percent of requests in 2012, although in the U.S., that number jumps to about 90 percent.

Skype, which Microsoft owns but is tracked separately for legal reasons, received 4,713 requests for data, but none of them produced any content (such as conversations or call recordings). Skype IDs, email accounts, billing information, and other details, however, were provided in some cases.

A blog post by Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith summarizes the report and points out some extra statistics. The report itself, in various formats, can be downloaded here.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is