Microsoft disclosed on Thursday for the first time the number of requests it had received from government law enforcement agencies for data on its hundreds of millions of customers around the world, joining the ranks of Google, Twitter and other Web businesses that publish so-called transparency reports.
The law enforcement requests concerned users of Microsoft services including Hotmail, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Skype and Xbox Live, where people are typically asked to enter their personal details to obtain service.
The Microsoft report, which it said it planned to update every six months, showed that law enforcement agencies in five countries Turkey, the United States, Britain, France and Germany accounted for 69 percent of the 70,665 requests Microsoft received last year.
In 80 percent of requests, Microsoft provided agencies with elements of what is called noncontent data, like an account holders name, gender, e-mail address, I.P. address, country of residence, and dates and times of data traffic.
In 2.1 percent of requests, Microsoft disclosed the actual content of a communication, like the subject headline of an e-mail, the contents of an e-mail or a picture stored on SkyDrive, its cloud computing service.
Microsoft said it disclosed the content of communications in 1,544 cases to U.S. law enforcement agencies, and in 14 cases to agents in Brazil, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.
Government requests for online data are like the dark matter of the Internet, said Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which has campaigned for greater disclosure.
She said that even with Microsofts disclosures, fewer than 10 companies published the extent of their cooperation with law enforcement agencies.