How Microsoft Spoiled Cloud Customers' Faith With One Prosecution

Original author: Rod Trent
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The other day, news was released that former Microsoft employee Alexei Kibkalo ( akibkalo ) was arrested for stealing and disclosing Microsoft's trade secrets. This event, undoubtedly, was the news of the day, and suddenly discovered that Microsoft was looking for "irrefutable" evidence against Alexei in other people's Hotmail / Outlook mailboxes.

On the one hand - nothing surprising, because the terms of service provide:

“You agree that Microsoft has the right to access, disclose or store information related to your use of the services, including (without limitation) your personal data and contents or information that Microsoft receives about you as a result of your use of the services (for example, IP address or other information from third parties), if Microsoft has reason to believe that such actions are necessary to
(a) comply with applicable laws or to respond appropriately to judicial requests;
(b) to enforce this agreement or to protect the rights or property of Microsoft or its users, or (c) to ensure personal safety or to prevent threats to the health of others. "

Based on this agreement, Microsoft can easily search for any necessary data for all mailboxes in its cloud, which was clearly demonstrated.

Under pressure from the indignant public, Microsoft had to announce that the company would still review its policy regarding private data stored in the Hotmail / Outlook cloud-based mail service. John Frank, deputy head of legal services and vice president of legal affairs, made an official statement in defense of the company's actions, and of course promised "to improve processes and increase transparency."
“The integrity of our customer data is incredibly important to us,” John said.

Of course, it’s much easier to apologize than to ask permission.

Personally, I have no complaints about how Microsoft acted in this situation. Of course, they have the right to fumble on their own servers. After all, the "Terms of Service" give them this permission.


This story should be sufficient evidence for those companies that decided to transfer their data to the cloud, despite all the tales of the "cloud merchants" about the inviolability of private data. As soon as you conclude a contract, all of your data that is on the servers of the cloud provider is now owned by the cloud provider.

Cloud service providers say something like “this is your data, we just store it for you” in order to gain confidence and give a false sense of security. This is actually just nonsense.

Steve Wozniak spoke best of all on this subject in August 2012:
“In the cloud, you no longer own anything. And they themselves signed up for it. The more data we transfer to the web, to the clouds, the less control we have left with them. ”

Steve also said:
“I am seriously concerned about how everything moves into the clouds. It seems to me that soon this will turn into a nightmare. I fear the worst consequences in the next five years. ”

So, in one undoubtedly legitimate step, Microsoft itself proved the point that companies that store data in the clouds unwittingly lose their property. The problem concerns not only the Hotmail / Outlook service. This applies to all Microsoft cloud services (Windows Azure, Xbox Live, OneDrive, etc.). And it's just awful.

For example, for Facebook this is not a problem. People themselves voluntarily part with their private lives every day. But for a business that needs to maintain control over those who own their data, this is completely unacceptable.

In my opinion, there is nothing surprising in how Microsoft behaved. After all, the company is guided by its legally flawlessthe right to “protect the safety of Microsoft employees, its customers and the public.” So, once you decide to store data in the cloud, carefully read the "Terms of Service", especially regarding the integrity of the data, the policy of their storage and the possibility of legal prosecution. And do not rely on the fact that for all services the “Conditions” will be the same.

Confidence in Microsoft’s policy regarding the integrity of data stored in Hotmail / Outlook has come under serious pressure, but it’s gratifying to hear that the policy will be improved and will raise fewer questions if you have to resort to such actions in the future.

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