Starting immediately, Microsoft says it will no longer access private emails under any circumstances. “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,” wrote Microsoft’s general vice counsel in a blog post announcing the decision.
While Microsoft will be forced to police itself in the short term, it also plans to rewrite its official customer terms of service, legally binding the company to its promise. It’s nice to see Microsoft admitting it made a wrong decision and agreeing to do better in the future, even if it’s only happening years after the fact thanks to a heavy dose of public outrage. Hopefully other tech giants will follow suit, though for companies like Google and Facebook that mine user data for profit, it may be impossible to ever stop snooping on our private messages entirely — even if it is collected anonymously.