Government requests Copyright requests Right to be forgotten

Government requests for content removal

When Microsoft receives a government request to remove content, we carefully review and assess the demand to understand the reason for the request, the authority of the requesting party, the applicable policies or terms of use for the affected product or service, and our commitments to our customers and users with regard to freedom of expression. Based on these reviews, we determine whether and to what extent we should remove the content in question. The report includes government requests for the removal of content for Microsoft consumer online services, such as Bing, OneDrive, Bing Ads, and MSN.

Government requests for content removal, January to June 2020

 

Country / Region
Requests
Action taken
Percentage – action taken
China
1,284

1,195

93%
France

63

58
92%
Germany

4

4

100%

Italy

1

1
100%

Netherlands

1

1

100%

Russia

1,624

720

44%

United Kingdom

1

0

0%

Total

2,978

1,979

66%
Requests that may result in account closure

10

4

40%

Note: Numbers are aggregated across all Microsoft consumer online services (e.g., Bing, Bing Ads, OneDrive, MSN) for which government content removal requests were received during this reporting period. Government content removals are directed by governmental entities and may be received pursuant to a court order or other demand to Microsoft. Our numbers do not include content removed as the result of a court order against Microsoft unless a government entity was the party pursuing the content removal. Requests may include a wide array of subject matters, and often contend that the content violates local law, such as prohibiting hate speech, defamation, political rumors or adult content. The laws surrounding these issues vary by country. Requests may report alleged violations of our terms of use. The numbers for “Requests that May Result in Account Closure” include those government requests for content removal that could lead to account closure (e.g., if a government reports to Microsoft an alleged violation of the terms of use for our services, and the alleged violation may lead to account closure under our terms of use), or if the government requests included an explicit request for account closure.

 


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FAQs

General questions about this report

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A content removal request is any request that seeks to have content removed from any Microsoft online products or services. This Content Removal Requests Report contains information on three specific types of requests for content removal:

  • Requests from governments such as claims of violations of local laws or our terms of use.
  • Requests from European residents or Russian residents to filter search results about them on Bing for queries that include their names under the European Court of Justice’s 2014 "right to be forgotten" ruling or under amendments to Russia’s data protection law, respectively.
  • Requests from copyright owners to Bing claiming infringement of protected works.

The Content Removal Requests Report focuses on copyright removal requests, “right to be forgotten” requests, and government requests for content removal. The Digital Safety Content Report focuses on three areas of digital safety content: child sexual exploitation and abuse imagery, terrorist and violent extremist content, and non-consensual intimate imagery. This report also provides information on some of our methods to address these areas. In previous years, we have reported on “non-consensual pornography” in the Content Removal Requests Report. However, we have updated this term to “non-consensual intimate imagery” to ensure that the language we use to refer to this type of violation is respectful to victims and reflects the intrusive and damaging nature of this type of content, and that data is now reported in the dedicated Digital Safety Content Report.

Yes, when search results are removed, Bing provides users with notice at the bottom of the relevant search results page. In the case of content that is filtered upon a search of a person’s name in response to a “right to be forgotten” request, the notice appears via link at the bottom of all search results pages in the applicable market(s).

If a publisher believes links to content have been removed incorrectly from Bing search results, the publisher may contact Bing with specific information about the URL at issue. We encourage publishers to contact Bing via our Webmaster Tools, which offers many helpful resources to publishers including easy access to our webmaster email support link. For other Microsoft services, customers may complete the Request to Reinstate Disabled Content form if they believe content has been incorrectly removed from their account.

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A government removal request is when a government issues a demand to Microsoft to remove access to content that is available online from one of our consumer products or services. We have attempted to include in our numbers all court orders if the demand was brought by a government entity; we did not include court orders that were brought by a private party. When Microsoft receives a government request to remove content, we carefully review and assess the demand to understand the reason for the request, the authority of the requesting party, the applicable internal policies or terms of use for the affected product or service, and our commitments to our customers and users including with regard to freedom of expression. Based on these reviews, we determine whether and to what extent we should remove the content in question.

Microsoft might reject a government request for various reasons including lack of proof of applicable law or governmental authority; an inadequate or insufficient request or formal order; or inconsistency of the law with international standards and norms or our policies.

The report includes government requests for the removal of content for Microsoft consumer online services, such as Bing, OneDrive, Bing Ads, and MSN.

The numbers for “requests that may result in account closure” include those government requests for content removal that could lead to account closure (e.g., if a government reports to Microsoft an alleged violation of the terms of use for our services, and the alleged violation may lead to account closure under our terms of use), or if the government requests included an explicit request for account closure.

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As an intellectual property company itself, Microsoft encourages respect for intellectual property, including copyrights. We also are committed to freedom of expression and the rights of users to engage in uses that may be permissible under applicable copyright laws. Links to webpages containing material that infringes on the rights of copyright owners may be removed from our search results provided we receive a legally sufficient notice of infringement from an owner or an authorized agent acting on that owner’s behalf. If you need to report copyright infringement to Microsoft, we recommend using our Notices of Infringement online reporting tools.

They are not included in this report, but we’re working to include them in future reports. However, these volumes are relatively low, and the data for this report includes more than 95 percent of the copyright removal requests for Bing for the six-month reporting period.

The reporting organization is the individual or organization who sends us a copyright removal notice. This may be the rightsholder or an individual or organization submitting a notice on the rightsholder’s behalf. The copyright owner is the individual or organization listed on the copyright removal notice as the copyright owner. Finally, the domain refers to the top-level domain for the URL(s) identified in the copyright removal notice. For example, if we received a copyright removal notice for the URL http://www.website.com/infringingURL, the domain would be website.com. This data is based on information we receive from copyright holders or the individuals or organizations submitting on their behalf when they submit notices, and represents notices received within the six-month reporting period.

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In some countries, individuals can request that search engines remove certain URLs that appear in the results for searches of the requester’s name. This is commonly referred to as the “right to be forgotten.” Specific laws in Russia and Europe provide guidelines for determining if a request should be granted for designated individuals. Microsoft provides online forms to easily facilitate the receipt and processing of such requests.

In Europe, individuals can request that search engines filter results for queries that include the applicant’s name if the results are inadequate, inaccurate, no longer relevant, or excessive. In accordance with the European Court of Justice’s ruling and related guidelines, we apply a test seeking to appropriately balance individuals’ rights to privacy with the public’s interest in freedom of expression and of access to information online. For more details, please see the Bing Help webpage on submitting privacy-related requests to block results in the EU.

 

For Russia, we follow the January 2016 amendments to Russia’s data protection law. The Russian law provides enumerated grounds for removal and requires that search results be removed if the applicant provides adequate proof in support of the claim. We reject requests that do not meet grounds for removal. For more detail, please see the Bing Help webpage on submitting data protection-related requests to block results for residents of the Russian Federation.

 

When Microsoft receives any request or demand, we seek to appropriately balance individuals’ rights to privacy with the public’s interest in freedom of expression and of access to information online.

No. We rely on each country to designate, by law, the circumstances under which search results must be removed. Because these laws are different, we apply designated criteria and processes that best enable appropriate review and processing under each.