Microsoft has revealed in a statement that they provided wrong figures earlier this month when it revealed an increase in the number of US government surveillance requests in the first six months of 2016.
The software giant explained that there’s actually no increase in the number of requests. It also stated that it received between 0 and 499 requests, just like in the same period the year before (between January and June 2015). However, Microsoft had earlier said it received between 1,000 and 1,4999 US surveillance orders as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The United States government does not allow companies to disclose the exact number of requests they receive, but only certain ranges.
In a statement released Microsoft has stated that the wrong data was published because of “human error,” promising to perform additional checks in the future to make sure this never happens.
“Our latest U.S. National Security Orders Report and accompanying blog post contained an error, reporting that from Jan. 1 – June 30, 2016 Microsoft received 1,000 – 1,499 FISA orders seeking disclosure of customer content. The correct range is 0 – 499 FISA orders seeking disclosure of customer content. All the other data disclosed in the National Security Orders Report was correct,” Microsoft explains.
“Microsoft corrected the mistake as soon as we realized it was made to ensure the accuracy of our reporting. We've put additional safeguards in place to ensure the numbers we report are correct. We apologize for the error.”
This month, Microsoft also published the contents of a National Security Letter (NSL) sent by the FBI in 2014 as part of a request for user information. The letter also included a gag order that didn’t allow the company to even discuss the letter due to a number of factors, including national security, as the bureau itself explains.