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Microsoft Launches New Transparency Website

Microsoft this week announced the launch of a new transparency website aimed at offering access to various transparency reports published by the company.

The new Microsoft Transparency Hub includes a report offering information on requests that the tech giant receives from different parties seeking the removal of online content. The website also provides users with access to the Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report, which cover the first six months of this year.

The reports offer details on requests received for customer data in the aforementioned period, showing a slight increase when compared to the last six months of 2014. However, orders from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are not included in the report, as they are subject to a six-month reporting delay.

The company revealed that law enforcement agencies made 35,228 requests for customer information during the first six months of the year, and that 72.7 percent of them came from organizations in five countries, namely United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, France and Germany. However, the Redmond-based giant notes that only 3 percent of the requests resulted in disclosed content.

The number of requests was slightly higher compared to the 31,002 requests the firm received in the second half of 2014. The number of rejected requests for not meeting legal requirements amounted to 4,383 (or 12 percent) in the six-month period, almost double when compared to the 2,342 requests rejected in the last half of 2014.

The launch of Microsoft Transparency Hub also marks the initial release of Microsoft’s Content Removal Requests Report, which includes info on requests for the removal of links or content the Bing search engine. These requests came from governments based on violations of local laws or Microsoft’s terms of service; from copyright owners claiming infringement of protected works; and from residents of Europe under the European Court of Justice’s 2014 “Right to be Forgotten” ruling.

The tech giant published a set of guidelines for these types of requests, explaining that they need to be made in writing, and that removed content is limited to the market specific versions of Bing in the country or where the requests are made. However, when it comes to copyright requests, the content is removed on a global basis.

The Content Removal Requests Report is expected to improve in future releases with additional information and categories. The Microsoft Transparency Hub is also expected to evolve with reports on other topics, offering “a better understanding of how Microsoft works to improve transparency about these types of requests and about our own activities around the world.”

Last month, Yahoo! revealed that it had received 15,583 requests for user data in the first half of 2015, while Amazon in June confirmed 1,000 requests for the first five months of the year.

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