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Microsoft beefs up customer privacy policy

Published on Mar 29, 2014 6:02 AM
 
Microsoft Corp, under fire for accessing an employee's private Hotmail account to prove he was leaking computer code to a blogger, has said it will now refer all suspicions of illegal activity on its email services to law enforcement. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEATTLE (REUTERS) - Microsoft Corp, under fire for accessing an employee's private Hotmail account to prove he was leaking computer code to a blogger, has said it will now refer all suspicions of illegal activity on its email services to law enforcement.

The decision, announced by head lawyer Brad Smith on Friday, reverses Microsoft's initial reaction to complaints last week, when it laid out a plan to refer such cases to an unidentified former federal judge, and proceed to open a suspect email account only if that person saw evidence to justify it.

"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 Mr Smith, in a blog post on the software company's website. "Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required."

Microsoft - which has recently cast itself as a defender of customer privacy - was harshly criticised last week by civil liberties groups after court documents made public in the prosecution of Mr Alex Kibkalo in Seattle federal court for leaking trade secrets showed that Microsoft had accessed the defendant's email account before taking the matter to legal authorities.

 
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