Content Removal Requests Report


Microsoft receives requests from around the world to remove access to content that is available online from one of our consumer products or services. Microsoft is providing details on these requests in four areas:
  • Requests from governments such as claims of violations of local laws or our terms of use
  • Requests from European and Russian residents to filter search results about them on Bing for queries that include their names, pursuant to local law
  • Requests from copyright owners to Bing claiming infringement of protected works
  • Requests from individuals to remove nonconsensual pornography, also referred to as “revenge porn,” which is the sharing of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos online without consent
This report covers the period between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2018.


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 2018

Country / Region
Requests
Action taken
Percentage – action taken
Australia
4
1
25%
China
623
502
81%
France
69
61
88%
Germany
5
5
100%
Israel
1
1
100%
Kazakhstan
1
1
100%
Netherlands
8
6
75%
Russia
1
1
100%
South Korea
2
2
100%
Taiwan
1
0
0%
United Kingdom
17
6
35%
Total
732
586
80%
Requests that may result in account closure
39
20
51%
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.

Copyright removal requests


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. The following numbers relate to requests to remove links to webpages from our Bing search engine results.

Copyright removal requests, January to June 2018

Requests
URLs requested
URLs accepted
URLs rejected
Percentage of URLs accepted
38,000,000
171,738,000
171,000,000
738,000
99.57%
Note: The data above details compliant removal requests received by Bing for removal of algorithmic search results. The report does not include: (1) copyright removal requests from the Bing image or video index, (2) from Bing Ads, or (3) removal requests for other online services, such as Outlook and Skype requests, or (4) requests initially deemed non-compliant during preliminary reviews conducted prior to entry of the request into our standard tracking tools. The data includes more than 95 percent of the copyright removal requests for Bing for the six-month reporting period. Removal requests for Bing represent about 99% of all copyright removal requests received.

“Right to be forgotten” requests


In May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that European residents could ask search engines to filter results for queries that include their name if the results are inadequate, inaccurate, no longer relevant, or excessive. As a result, Microsoft has put in place procedures to ensure we comply in ways that appropriately balance individuals’ rights to privacy with the general public’s interest in freedom of expression and the free availability of information online.

Separately, on January 1, 2016, new amendments to Russia’s data protection law came into effect, which require that search engines filter certain search results for queries that include a Russian applicant’s name. The Russian law provides enumerated grounds for removal. It requires that search results be removed if the applicant provides adequate proof in support of the claim, and that we reject requests that do not meet the statutory standard.

"Right to be forgotten" requests, January to June 2018

Country / Region
Requests received and processed
URLs requested
URLs accepted
URLs rejected
Percentage of URLs accepted
Austria
52
117
44
73
38%
Belgium
42
262
170
92
65%
Bulgaria
8
77
22
55
29%
Croatia
3
9
9
0
100%
Cyprus
1
1
0
1
0%
Czech Republic
3
14
11
3
79%
Denmark
9
23
12
11
52%
Estonia
4
12
1
11
8%
Finland
24
96
70
26
73%
France
896
2,187
1,150
1,037
53%
Germany
411
1,094
432
662
39%
Greece
6
109
104
5
95%
Hungary
3
3
3
0
100%
Iceland
2
5
4
1
80%
Ireland
22
97
85
12
88%
Italy
154
723
445
278
62%
Latvia
10
50
33
17
66%
Lithuania
4
7
6
1
86%
Luxembourg
1
1
0
1
0%
Malta
3
7
0
7
0%
Netherlands
162
651
187
464
29%
Norway
43
101
63
38
62%
Poland
36
122
69
53
57%
Portugal
5
41
35
6
85%
Romania
4
10
5
5
50%
Russia
23
162
111
51
69%
Slovakia
2
13
9
4
69%
Slovenia
2
5
5
0
100%
Spain
128
478
210
268
44%
Sweden
126
332
171
161
52%
Switzerland
50
115
63
52
55%
United Kingdom
541
2,208
1,514
694
69%
Total
2,780
9,132
5,043
4,089
55%
Note: This table shows the number of URLs that were accepted and rejected for European and Russian requests received between January 1 and June 30, 2018 that were processed as of August 15, 2018. The number of URLs accepted and rejected may not reflect requests still pending review as of August 15, 2018. For example, processing delays may result if more information is needed to complete the review on a request.

Cumulative "Right to be forgotten" requests, May 2014 to June 2018

Requests received and processed
URLs requested
URLs accepted
URLs rejected
Percentage of URLs accepted
Total
26,729
78,781
32,725
46,056
42%
Note: This table shows the number of URLs that were accepted and rejected for European and Russian requests received between May 2014 and June 30, 2018 that were processed as of August 15, 2018. The number of URLs accepted and rejected may not reflect requests still pending review as of August 15, 2018. For example, processing delays may result if more information is needed to complete the review on a request.

Requests for removal of nonconsensual pornography ("revenge porn")


In July 2015, Microsoft announced it would remove reported links to photos and videos from search results in Bing globally, and remove access to the content itself when shared on OneDrive or Xbox Live, when we are notified by an identifiable victim of the sharing of nude or sexually explicit images online without consent (nonconsensual pornography, also referred to as “revenge porn”).

Non-consensual pornography ("revenge porn") removal requests, January to June 2018

Requests reported
Requests accepted
Percentage of requests accepted
Total
362
242
67%
Note: Numbers are aggregated across Bing, OneDrive, and Xbox Live for which a content removal request was received during this reporting period.

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FAQ's


General questions about this report
|

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 four 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.
  • Requests from individuals to remove nonconsensual pornography, also referred to as "revenge porn," which is the sharing of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos online without consent.

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 this form if they believe content has been incorrectly removed from their account.

Questions about government requests for content removal
|

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.

Questions about copyright removal requests
|

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 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.

Questions about “right to be forgotten” requests
|

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.

Questions about requests to remove nonconsensual pornography ("revenge porn")
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In July 2015, when Microsoft announced its approach to nonconsensual pornography, also referred to as “revenge porn,” which is the sharing of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos online without consent, we said we would report the number of requests for takedown in our Content Removal Requests Report.