Menu
After outcry, Microsoft changes course and won't access user data in theft probes

After outcry, Microsoft changes course and won't access user data in theft probes

Instead, the company will refer the matter to law enforcement agencies

Microsoft will no longer go through email messages and other personal data that users of its online services have stored on its servers, a decision taken after being sharply criticized for accessing a person's inbox as part of an internal investigation.

"Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer's private content ourselves," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president, legal and corporate affairs, in a blog post on Friday.

Instead, the company will refer the matter to law enforcement agencies if further action is required, he said.

Microsoft sparked an outcry last week when it revealed that it had looked at messages from a blogger's Hotmail account as part of a company investigation into trade-secret leaks.

The company subsequently amended its policies, saying that in the future a separate legal team at the company would review evidence in similar cases before deciding to access an end user's data.

Since then, "we've had the opportunity to reflect further on this issue" after having internal conversations and talks with advocacy groups and other experts, Smith wrote.

"Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers," Smith said.

However, it might not be a blanket promise. The company did not say whether it would also change its policies if the case involves a matter other than stolen property. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft said it will incorporate the change into its customer terms of service in the coming months.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitysocial mediaprivacyMicrosoftinternetlegalsearch enginessocial networkingdata protectionMailInternet-based applications and services

Featured

Slideshows

Ingram Micro maintains Showcase 2018 momentum in Wellington

Ingram Micro maintains Showcase 2018 momentum in Wellington

Ingram Micro maintained Showcase 2018 momentum in Wellington, hosting more than 40 vendors at TSB Arena. Under the banner of Leading the Way, the event demonstrated what’s new, what’s next and how it can be used to improve business and everyday life.

Ingram Micro maintains Showcase 2018 momentum in Wellington
Ingram Micro launches Showcase 2018 in Christchurch

Ingram Micro launches Showcase 2018 in Christchurch

Ingram Micro kickstarted Showcase 2018 in Christchurch, hosting more than 40 vendors at Horncastle Arena. Under the banner of Leading the Way, the event demonstrated what’s new, what’s next and how it can be used to improve business and everyday life.

Ingram Micro launches Showcase 2018 in Christchurch
Data breach notification laws in NZ: How can partners prepare?

Data breach notification laws in NZ: How can partners prepare?

This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable outlined the responsibilities facing security partners today, assessing risk while evaluating the role of the vendor in providing added layers of protection.

Data breach notification laws in NZ: How can partners prepare?
Show Comments