If you are doing nothing wrong, who cares who is watching, right? Wrong. While it is likely that you will not face any criminal charges for your innocent online activities, there are some very important constitutional implications of the government snooping on your Internet activity. After mounting criticism for lack of transparency, Microsoft released information related to government surveillance of its services like Skype, Hotmail, and Xbox Live. Microsoft reports that in 2012 it received over 75,000 law enforcement requests for user information. Of the total number of the requests, Microsoft only revealed user “content” information in 2.2% of cases. The remaining requests either resulted in no disclosure or disclosure of “non-content” information, 18% and 79.8%, respectively.
“Non-content” information includes data related to login name, personal user ID, first and last names, state, zip code, country, time zone, registered-from IP, date of registration, and last-login IP. Personal information like gender, age, and even your credit card and billing information may also be revealed as “non-content” information. However, law enforcement must make an official, document-based request (i.e. subpoena) before Microsoft will reveal this information.
"Content" information includes what users create, communicate, and store on Microsoft services such as the words in an e-mail, photographs, and documents stored on SkyDrive. Microsoft requires a court order or search warrant before it discloses this content to law enforcement. But be forewarned, even without a request from law enforcement, Microsoft may be able to turn over “content” or “non-content” data on its own accord.
While the amount of information that is released to government/law enforcement about you is relatively small, it is something to think about when you communicate online. You may not care if the government can see those funny emails you send to your family and friends or what you recently bought on Amazon, but you probably should care that they know who you are, where you are, and when you last logged on.