It recently became apparent that Microsoft accessed a bloggers email when they found out he was receiving sensitive Microsoft material from a source inside Microsoft. In short, Microsoft got spooked that its intellectual property was walking out the door and took steps to stop these actions.
Microsoft accessed the account without a warrant and as you can imagine, this caused quite a stir in the tech community. In an effort to save face, Microsoft has changed its policy and will not access any information on company owned services and will instead turn the information over to the police.
Microsoft’s new policy is as noted by Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft:
Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.
This is step that will likely appease those who were critical of the company and its practices for investigating such instances. Of course, this policy comes after the fact that these practices were in place but if you are willing to trust Microsoft’s word here, then it will not happen again (without a warrant that is).