Following uproar over its handling of a recent intellectual property leak, Microsoft announced today that it will stop searching through emails if a similar situation arises in the future.
“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,” Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote. “Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.”
The changes come just a week after Microsoft searched through a blogger’s emails in an effort to locate a source code leak stemming from a former employee who illegally shared Microsoft intellectual property. Soon after news broke about Microsoft’s tactics, the company wrote that it had to “take extraordinary actions based on the specific circumstances,” and made a few minor changes to its policies for future issues dealing with leaked information.
But today’s announcement is on another level, as Microsoft vowed to never look through emails again. Smith maintained that the company’s earlier actions were “clearly within our legal rights,” however, he notes that “rather than inspect the private content of customers ourselves in these instances, we should turn to law enforcement and their legal procedures.”
Smith added that “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.”