Microsoft Wants to Disclose FISA Data, Too
Following Google's lead, Microsoft asks the court if it can come clean on FISA requests for user data.In the wake of the PRISM scandal, Microsoft is taking a page from Google's playbook and requesting permission from the U.S. government to release more details about government requests for customer data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). On June 14, John Frank, vice president and Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft, announced that during the last half of 2012, it had received "6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders" from law enforcement agencies requesting information on up to 32,000 accounts. Apart from those hazy numbers, the company was forbidden to reveal much more. "We are permitted to publish data on national security orders received (including, if any, FISA Orders and FISA Directives), but only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; only for the six-month period of July 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2012; only if the totals are presented in bands of 1,000; and all Microsoft consumer services had to be reported together," informed Frank in a Microsoft on the Issues blog post. Now the software behemoth is seeking to provide a little more specificity in a motion filed on June 19 with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "To promote additional transparency concerning the Government's lawful access to Microsoft's customer data, Microsoft seeks to report aggregate information about FISA orders and FAA [FISA Amendments Act] directives separately from all other local, state, and federal law enforcement demands," said the company in its filing.
The company also said that it had been denied permission by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to disclose aggregate figures on FISA and FAA orders and the total number of accounts affected. And like Google, Microsoft argued that it has a First Amendment right to provide that information.