Microsoft Changes Policy in Wake of Email Probing.
Microsoft had announced on Friday that they will stop sneaking into there users private emails, who have been suspected of stealing and illegally selling their property, which as you can imagine drew a lot of shock from the average Microsoft customer. Apparently the long term customer service agreements that people barely read gave Microsoft the right to search through any customer’s private content if they had been suspected of pirating or even stealing any physical property from Microsoft.
Can’t Touch This.
Despite the fact that this has been made legally clear, a huge public outcry from a case back in 2012 where the computer did some prowling around on a suspected thefts email had led towards a reassessment of the “you signed away all your privacy rights” policy.
“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,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for legal and corporate affairs in a blog post on Friday. “Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required. In addition to changing company policy, in the coming months we will incorporate this change in our customer terms of service, so that it’s clear to consumers and binding on Microsoft.”
Change of Heart.
Who knows if this could be the cause of all the negative surge of publicity or if its really a change of heart is quite difficult to pinpoint of course. Regardless, Microsoft worrisome of having the property stolen will not longer be dealt with their direct involvement and will no doubt be tested out soon enough. Smith had indirectly credited this move to the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his mass of leaked information on the government surveillance programs for the recent change.
“We’ve entered a “post-Snowden era” in which people rightly focus on the ways others use their personal information,” Smith wrote. “As a company we’ve participated actively in the public discussions about the proper balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the powers of government. We’ve advocated that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities.”
The fact that its quite ironic to leave an email surveillance towards law enforcement from now own didn’t seem to come to mind. Microsoft’s will be taking the next step into building a better overall framework for searching and preventing software thieves in partnership with the Center for Democracy and Technology and other stakeholders. Coming up with better practices that will handle these kinds of violations with the necessary need to break their customers privacy will be taking high priority.
“Ultimately, these types of questions affect us all, and they will benefit from even more of the thought-provoking discussions that the events from last week have encouraged,” Smith wrote.