So a lot of people have gotten furious about Microsoft accessing a Hotmail account of a blogger in order to track down the person responsible for Windows 8 leaks. Well, it turns out that the company has the rights to do so without the consent of the owner or the need for a court order.
What makes this possible is a small paragraph in the company’s Terms of Service – The long ‘gibberish’ most of us ignore and accept blindly. In the agreement, it’s mentioned that Microsoft ‘may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.’ This is however, only done in certain cases to ‘protect the rights or property of Microsoft or (its) customers,’ ‘protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, customers or the public’ and ‘comply with the law or respond to lawful requests or legal process.’
A post on Re/Code notes that Google and Yahoo have also implemented similar conditions in their TOS. So what started this entire outrage? Microsoft snooped around a blogger’s Hotmail account to find evidence of an ex-employee leaking the company’s intellectual property. Since the data is stored on their own servers, the Redmond giant didn’t even require a court order to perform the search. The company states that its actions were within ‘policies and applicable law.’
On the bright side, Microsoft has announced new policies when it comes to snooping through your email. You can find the entire process on the TechNet blog. The moral of the story is that you should start reading what you agree to, especially if it’s something of importance.