Amid widespread privacy concerns in the wake of a leak investigation, Microsoft has announced a change in the way it handles private customer accounts. Under the new policy, effective immediately, any investigation that suggests that Microsoft’s services have been used to traffic stolen Microsoft intellectual property will no longer result in Microsoft accessing private account information. Instead, the investigation will be handed over to law enforcement agencies, and it will be for those agencies to demand access to necessary private information.
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith also said that the company’s terms of service will be updated to reflect this new policy in coming months.
Court documents last week revealed that Microsoft read private Hotmail e-mails of a blogger who received secret information from a disgruntled employee. Microsoft’s terms of service, in common with those of Yahoo, Google, and Apple, give the company the legal right to access private information for such investigations. Nonetheless, the lack of transparency and oversight caused widespread alarm.
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