Electronic Frontier Foundation Criticizes Microsoft’s Warrantless Search Of Blogger’s Mail Contents

, an ex-Microsoft employee was arrested for leaking trade secrets and internal Windows related software builds to a blogger. Court documents revealed that Microsoft snooped into Outlook/Hotmail accounts of the blogger to crack down this case. Some news sites accused Microsoft for snooping customer’s (in this case blogger’s) email account. Electronic Frontier Foundation today raised the same issue criticizing Microsoft for searching blogger’s Outlook/Hotmail contents without court warrant.

To the contrary, if Microsoft’s independent legal team concluded that there was probable cause, it could have passed the tipster’s information to the FBI to obtain a warrant and conduct the search under the auspices of the criminal justice system. The warrant protections enshrined in the Constitution would be preserved, ECPA would be satisfied, and Microsoft could have claimed the high moral ground. Instead, Microsoft has opted for an internal corporate shadow court.

To be sure, the process described in Microsoft’s statement bears more than a passing resemblance to a standard criminal investigation, with a prosecutorial team building a case and then presenting it to an ostensibly neutral third party, a retired federal judge no less. Let’s call it Warrants for Windows!

The monumental problem here is that Microsoft’s process has none of the protections provided by our legal system. No matter how fairly this process operates in any particular situation, approval by an employee paid by Microsoft, no matter how well qualified, is not approval of a “neutral and detached magistrate,” as required by the Fourth Amendment. Similarly, the protections provided to criminal suspects by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments wouldn’t apply to Microsoft’s internal investigation. In short, “Come back with a warrant” is meaningless when the FBI doesn’t get involved until after all the evidence has been collected.

Related posts,

Microsoft Makes Changes To Its Internal Policy Regarding Snooping Of Customer Data

Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested For Leaking Windows 8 Builds And Trade Secrets

Source: EFF via: Neowin

  • http://yourig.livejournal.com/ ZloiYuri

    This instantly ruined all trust to MS. What they said? Scruggled? Bitch, please!

    • grs_dev

      You clearly are confused. Legal investigations and Ad pushing are 2 totally different paradigms.

      I don’t know what country you live in, but the one I am in which is where Microsoft is also based out of, you do not need a court’s permission to search your own property.

  • Alan

    Oh look another organisation who doesn’t have all the facts making a statement!!!

  • Katsumi Blisk

    Since when did the 4th & 5th amendments etc. apply to Microsoft? Are they the govt. now?

  • Stephen Turner

    Microsoft owns the servers, so what they did was totally within the legal purview of an internal investigation. Their team was investigating intellectual property theft, and traced it to their own email servers. No warrant needed to search your own property. Nothing wrong with checking your own property for potentially illegal activity. What’s the problem now?

  • grs_dev

    I don’t understand why people ignore the terms and conditions of services they receive especially free ones and then complain later when they fail to comply with the terms of those services.