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Microsoft pledges not to search user email for stolen property

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Microsoft is making huge changes to its privacy policy in the wake of a recent email scandal that saw the company searching through a French blogger's hotmail account in search of leaked company property. In an announcement today on the company's policy blog, general counsel Brad Smith said that Microsoft would no longer search user content when company property is threatened, but would refer the entire matter to outside law enforcement and let them guide further action. The statement goes beyond a previous statement made last week, which only stated that the company would "comply with the standards applicable to obtaining a court order" when searching user content.

Many were shocked by the news that Microsoft had searched a user's hotmail account, and even more shocked to learn that the actions were both legal and entirely in line with the company's Terms of Service. Nonetheless, Microsoft seems determined to win back any lost trust. The company also announced a new project to set privacy standards for cases like that one, with help from privacy advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy in Technology. "Ultimately, these types of questions affect us all," Smith said in the statement, "and they will benefit from even more of the thought-provoking discussions that the events from last week have encouraged."