Microsoft will stop spying on suspected thieves

Avatar By Aaron Sims | 6 years ago

If you’re like most computer and internet users, every time you are asked to read a “terms of service” agreement, you simply scroll rapidly through the document, check “I agree” at the bottom the page, and go about your business. However, according to a recent post from InTheCapital, Microsoft has been using this corner-cutting tendency as a means of sneaking questionable provisions into its terms of service policies.

The current issue with Microsoft involves a policy in the company’s customer service agreements that has, for years now, given the corporation the right to snoop through the emails and other private content of any customers suspected of pirating or otherwise stealing Microsoft products, services, software, and other assorted property. In other words, if Microsoft suspected you of using a pirated copy of Microsoft Office, their terms of service agreements would essentially give them the legal right to go rifling through your emails and other internet communications to try to find proof.

Of course, while Microsoft can’t be legally targeted for this practice – due to airtight contractual language and sheer customer ignorance – that doesn’t mean that they haven’t earned the vehemence of customers for exercising dishonest practices. In fact, when a 2012 court case involving the thief snooping provision hit the headlines, the Washington-based software giant faced notable backlash that likely encouraged more than a few customers to jump ship on Microsoft products and services. Now, in the wake of last year’s Edward Snowden NSA leak – as well as the myriad privacy infringement revelations it brought to the forefront of public discussion – Microsoft is feeling more pressure than ever before to respect the privacy of its customers and keep snooping to a minimum.

For that reason, the company announced this week that it was in the process of rewriting and re-defining its policy regarding potential Microsoft software thieves. Now, if the company receives indication that a customer has been infringing upon Microsoft copyrights, it will pass that information off to law enforcement rather than launching a private investigation and digging through the alleged thief’s private information. The new change will soon be reflected in Microsoft’s customer terms of service agreements.