A recent revelation about the lengths to which Microsoft went to track down a former employee who is charged with stealing trade secrets has some critics questioning the company’s ethics, and has put Microsoft on the defensive.
According to a document filed in court this week, Microsoft accessed the Hotmail account of a French blogger in September 2012. The blogger had a history of leaking screenshots and software releases before they were ready for public consumption, and the company suspected the blogger had received some of that information from its former employee, Alex Kibkalo.
Microsoft has issued several statements about its decision to look through a Hotmail user’s email. One to Mashable
which came from an unnamed representative, states that searching someone’s email happens “only in the most exceptional circumstances.”
“We apply a rigorous process before reviewing such content,” the representative said. “In this case, there was a thorough review by a legal team separate from the investigating team and strong evidence of a criminal act that met a standard comparable to that required to obtain a legal order to search other sites.”
’s Christina Warren wondered if Microsoft wasn’t being a bit duplicitous, though, considering its harsh criticism of Google
for how its rival collects user data.
Thursday night, Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel John Frank issued another statement
about how the company is “evolving our policies” regarding privacy in Hotmail and Outlook. Frank says the company will use “standards applicable to obtaining a court order” and will publish information about email searches in its bi-annual transparency report.
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Nonetheless, some harsh criticism continued on Twitter and elsewhere online Friday morning:
What do you think, PR Daily
readers? Is Microsoft’s promise to be more careful enough?