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Microsoft leaker sentenced to three months in prison after controversial investigation

Microsoft leaker sentenced to three months in prison after controversial investigation

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Former Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo was sentenced to three months in jail on Tuesday for stealing trade secrets and leaking confidential software to a French blogger. Kibkalo was arrested in March and has been in custody ever since, so he's nearing the end of his prison term. "For sure, I got my lesson not to discuss my work projects with external parties," Kibkalo said in a letter included in court documents. The software architect had been the company for years before he became disgruntled after receiving a mediocre performance report. But Microsoft is walking away from this case with its own battle scars; the company went to controversial lengths to uncover Kibkalo's identity.

Privacy advocates say Microsoft went a step too far when it secretly looked through a Hotmail user's email to pinpoint the source of numerous leaks related to early Windows code and authentication software. Initially, Microsoft said it conducted a "limited review" of the Hotmail account in question and argued that it had the legal authority to do so. But in the face of mounting criticism, the company revised its privacy policy and pledged not to snoop through Outlook accounts — even when its own intellectual property is at stake.

Microsoft is also altering its service terms to make it abundantly clear that the company won't target users with ads based on their private data. "We do not use what you say in email, chat, video calls, or voicemail to target advertising to you," the terms now read. By contrast, Google uses automated systems to scan Gmail content in an attempt to improve its own targeted ads. "Nor do we use your documents, photos, or other personal files to target advertising to you," Microsoft said. The new policy takes effect on July 31st.