Microsoft handed Australian government agents personal information about more than a thousand users in the first half of 2013, a transparency report reveals.
Between January and June, authorities made 1219 requests for access to data relating to 1462 accounts.
Microsoft granted 1050 (86 per cent) of those requests – handing over information such as email addresses, names, locations and internet protocol (IP) addresses.
However, the company did not disclose user-generated “content data” – which includes emails, documents and photographs.
Six requests did not meet legal requirements and were rejected, while the company was unable to find the requested data in 163 cases.
The report is the second Microsoft has released on government data requests.
The first revealed the company received 2238 requests from Australian authorities last year.
Globally, 64 governments made 37,000 requests concerning 67,000 accounts. More than 70 per cent came from the US, UK, France, Germany and Turkey.
Microsoft provided information 80 per cent of the time but only one in fifty requests led the company to release sensitive “content data”.
The requests usually relate to criminal investigations but some involve “imminent emergencies” such as suicide threats.
The company sought to reassure users, stating on its website that fewer than one in every 10,000 users were affected by law enforcement requests during the reporting period.
Microsoft was unable to confirm the number of active Australian users.
“We place a premium on respecting and protecting the privacy of our users,” the company said in the report.
“At the same time, Microsoft recognises that law enforcement plays a critically important role in keeping our users and our technology safe and free from abuse or exploitation.”
Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo! have all released similar reports in recent months.
Transparency has emerged as a sensitive issue this year in the wake of leaks by former US government contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed that nine companies had turned over user data to the US National Security Agency.
Last month, Yahoo! released its first global transparency report, which revealed it had received 704 requests from Australian agents in the first six months of 2013, regarding 799 accounts or users.
The company granted full access to “content data” in response to 11 requests – handing over information such as the content of emails, uploaded files and Yahoo address, calendar and notepad entries.
It handed over “non-content data” in response to 305 of the requests, rejected 242 and found no data in 146.
Facebook’s first transparency report, released in August, reported the social networking site received 546 requests regarding 601 Australian-held accounts in the first six months of 2013.
It granted information in response to 64 per cent of the requests.
In the same month, Twitter revealed it received 58 information requests from Australian authorities in the first half of the year, compared to fewer than ten in the second half of 2012. The microblogging site responded with information in a quarter of cases.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) recently confirmed to AAP that it made requests for data from Facebook but would not disclose the number or their nature.