A lot of news came out this week about Microsoft’s snooping of emails in regards to a criminal case where they viewed the email of an alleged criminal. On Friday, Microsoft clarified their policy on email, and will now refer the matter to law enforcement if they see fit.
In revising its corporate strategy, Microsoft was taking a beating in the press on this matter earlier this week. The matter involved an insider who stole trade secrets, and used Microsoft services to sell the information, and Microsoft using their power to view his emails.
New Microsoft Policy
In a blog post on the Microsoft site, Brad Smith, who is Microsoft’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President, stated that they have changed their policies after talking with groups and experts. Effective immediately, the company will not inspect customer’s content themselves, but will refer it to law enforcement officials if they suspect stolen intellectual property.
Microsoft changed its mind after they used their power to inspect a user’s email account after they stole insider software and offered to sell it online. This is a quick turnaround for Microsoft, and is a response to the lashings they have been taking in the press. This makes it fair for all parties involved.
Why Does This Matter?
For most users, this type of insider information is nothing to them. But, it makes a difference to computer users in general. Microsoft’s initial position gave their viewpoint as a company with no care for a customers opinion. But, after discussing it with other groups like the CDT and EFF, they quickly changed their minds.
This type of instance is only where Microsoft feels like their trade secrets, intellectual property, or other technology is in danger. The company will still refer other items to law enforcement officials if it involves a criminal matter or court matter. It has been a very touchy subject for Microsoft this week, and they clarified their new position in a good way on Friday. These types of blog posts from Microsoft generally catch attention, and show that they still care about the user overall.
I’m glad Microsoft did this turnaround. Snooping on emails without permission is wrong, and they realize that now.