Microsoft received 186 requests to remove Bing search results and other online content from governments worldwide in the first half of 2015 — and 89 percent of them came from the goverment of China.

In addition, 3,546 European residents asked Microsoft to remove content about them Bing under the European Court of Justice’s 2014 “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling. That includes 759 individuals from Germany, 750 from France and 559 from the UK.

It also received 1.02 million notofications of alleged copyright infringements.

Those are the key findings in Microsoft's first content removal requests report, which details:

  • Requests from governments based on violations of local laws or our terms of service
  • Requests from copyright owners claiming infringement of protected works
  • Requests from residents of Europe under the European Court of Justice’s 2014 “Right to be Forgotten” ruling

In addition to Bing search, the requests target content on other Microsoft consumer online services, including OneDrive, Bing Ads and MSN.

Forget-Me-Or-Nots

Microsoft said it put policies in place for EU residents in the wake of a May 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice, which ruled European residents could ask search engines to remove results for queries that include their name if the results are "inadequate, inaccurate, no longer relevant or excessive."

Microsoft content removal by country

Microsoft reports it complied with 89 percent of the requests it received from governments, based on a review of "the applicable policies or terms of service for the affected product or service, and our commitments to our customers and users with regard to freedom of expression."

Microsoft government requests

One other figure worth noting is the number of requests for removal of content based on alleged copyright infringements

In a blog post about the new reports, John Frank Deputy General Counsel and Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft said that Microsoft actively enforces intellectual property rights:

“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," he wrote.

Of all the requests to remove links to content that infringed copyright 92 percent were successful.

Law Enforcement Actions

In addition to the inagural content removal report, Microsoft also updated two other reports it has been issuing for several years: a Law Enforcement Requests Report, started in 2013, and a National Security Report, which involve legal demands from the US government over issues of alleged national security, started in 2014.

In all, Microsoft received a total number of 35,228 requests for user information from law enforcement agencies globally, up from 31,002 requests in the second half of 2014. Of those requests for content customers created, shared or stored on its services, Microsoft responded positively to just three percent of them and stressed that it will only do so only when presented with a court order or warrant.

Breaking that down a little further, Microsoft refused 4383 requests because they did not meet legal requirements, up almost 100 percent from the same period in 2014 when 2,342 requests were refused for the same reason.

Requests from law enforcement agencies in five countries – United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, France and Germany – represent 72.7 percent of total requests in the first half of 2015.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License Title image by Günter Hentschel.