As the world becomes increasingly hostile toward any violation or even perceived violation of privacy, Microsoft has backtracked on one of its more controversial decisions. Brad Smith, Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs, took to the Microsoft on the Issues blog on Friday to announce that the company will no longer be inspecting the private information of any users reported trafficking in Microsoft’s intellectual or physical property. That information will instead be turned over the authorities for further investigation.
“It’s always uncomfortable to listen to criticism,” writes Smith. “But if one can step back a bit, it’s often thought-provoking and even helpful. That was definitely the case for us over the past week. Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers.”
The “post-Snowden era,” as Smith refers to it, has given new meaning to customer privacy. Microsoft wants to retain the trust of its users, and one way to do that is to give up access to content that is within its legal rights to obtain, even if that means complicating the process by calling upon the legal system to interject. The new policy is effective immediately — you should see the changes reflected in the terms of service in the coming months.