Recently a man was arrested when it was learned that he allegedly leaked information on Windows 8. The former employee was caught after Microsoft went through a blogger’s Hotmail account to find information on his source for the leaked story. They insist it is perfectly legal for them to have done so, though promise they will be more ‘careful’ in the future.
It is a stunning show of hypocrisy. Just months ago Microsoft was jumping on the anti-NSA bandwagon, claiming they have “grave concerns” for the privacy of their users. Government agencies had been exploiting their products for information on citizens, and had requested backdoors be built in coding to improve and hasten access to that data.
Despite their disgust at the NSA and other global agencies, that outrage doesn’t seem to extend to when spying is convenient for them. They insist they had reason, and that the law shouldn’t even get involved.
We believe that Outlook and Hotmail email are and should be private, they said in a statement. Today there has been coverage about a particular case. While we took extraordinary actions in this case based on the specific circumstances and our concerns about product integrity that would impact our customers, we want to provide additional context regarding how we approach these issues generally and how we are evolving our policies.
Courts do not issue orders authorizing 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.
They said certain changes will be made to policy, however. First, they say that they will have a legal team separate from their internal investigation team, who will decide if they should seek a court order. Second, they say they will only seek out information relevant to the current case, regardless of the search. Third, they say they will remain entirely transparent and release it as part if their bi-annual transparency report, unless involving an employee still with the company.
Basically, they are going to keep doing what they want unless they are forced to go to the courts, and there is nothing you can do about it. But they hope you consider it an improvement to what they were doing before, which is pretty much the same thing without the apologetic tone.
This wasn’t even clever doublespeak.