Privacy is always a touchy thing, whether or not you have something to hide. And when people in “power” do invade privacy in one way or another, the proverbial excrement does hit the spinning blades. Last week, the case of Microsoft snooping on a Hotmail user’s emails because of suspected “trafficking of stolen Microsoft source code” hit the grapevine, and as could be expected, outrage was the result.

privacy policy

Microsoft has been quick to react to this, however, with Brad Smith, the General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs of the company publishing a blog post dealing with the issue. He mentions that Microsoft has made changes to its privacy policy, to the effect that they will not be snooping on their users’ Hotmail accounts anymore when legal issues – piracy included – arise.

Instead, Microsoft will immediately hand the reins over to law enforcement. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

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.

Obviously, this does not mean that illicit activities will go unhindered. It’s just that Microsoft, as a private entity, will not invade an individual’s privacy even if suspicions arise.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that Smith stands by their right to search their users’ emails if necessary. However, he played the “we listen to our customers” card, and passes the buck to law enforcement and whatever legal procedures they may have in place.

One can look at this move from two perspectives.

One, Microsoft is respecting its users’ privacy.

Two, Microsoft is merely shifting the responsibility so that they don’t have to directly deal with potential backlash of inspecting private emails.

How do you feel about this change in Microsoft’s privacy policy?

[Image via Mashable]