Microsoft Says It Can, and Will, Read Your Emails Without a Court Order
March 21st, 2014
Microsoft recently managed to hunt down a former employee who previously leaked copies for Windows 7 and Windows 8 to the Internet, but according to court documents, the company has managed to determine his identity after looking into Hotmail accounts. Without court orders, that is.
And still, the company claims that it’s perfectly legal to look into a Hotmail or Outlook.com account without first asking a judge for permission because what it’s doing is actually searching its own servers for information regarding a specific case.
Microsoft vice president and general counsel Frank Shaw said in a statement that although the company is free to look into user accounts for specific information, it’s not doing it, and to give users a better sense of privacy, it’s also tightening internal policies to make sure that emails are stored securely on its servers.
“Courts do not issue orders authorising someone to search themselves, since obviously no such order is needed. So even when we believe we have probable cause, it’s not feasible to ask a court to order us to search ourselves,” Shaw explained.
“To ensure we comply with the standards applicable to obtaining a court order, we will rely in the first instance on a legal team separate from the internal investigating team to assess the evidence. We will move forward only if that team concludes there is evidence of a crime that would be sufficient to justify a court order, if one were applicable.”