Microsoft recently searched a blogger’s Hotmail account to find the person who leaked copies of Windows 8 and anti-piracy software. The leaker, who turned out to be an ex-Microsoft employee, was arrested and charged shortly after the search revealed his identity.

John Frank, Microsoft’s VP and deputy general counsel, said the company searched the blogger’s Hotmail account “ to protect our customers and the security and integrity of our products.”

The verge reports that Microsoft will change its policies to protect the company and its customers in future cases. Microsoft will change its policies in the following ways:

  • A legal team will check cases and decide whether a court order is justified.
  • An outside attorney/former federal judge will review the evidence and decide if a search is necessary.
  • Counsel will supervise each search to make sure only the matter under investigation is reviewed.
  • Microsoft will publish search information as part of its bi-annual transparency report, which will include the number of searches and the number of affected customer accounts.

Frank explained “the only exception to these steps will be for internal investigations of Microsoft employees who we find in the course of a company investigation are using their personal accounts for Microsoft business, and in these cases, the review will be confined to the subject of the investigation.”

Frank also discussed the importance of customer privacy: “While we believe our actions in this particular case were given the specific circumstances, we want to be clear about how we will handle similar situations going forward. That is why we are building on our current practices and adding to them to further strengthen our processes and increase transparency”

To learn more about Microsoft’s process for accessing private users’ Hotmail accounts, give us a call or send us an email. We can help you stay up to date on Microsoft’s evolving policies. 

Author: Lance Stone, Date: 2014-04-14