Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) does not need court orders to search personal Hotmail accounts. One former Microsoft employee was arrested earlier this week for stealing and sending out trade secrets to an unknown person outside the company.

Microsoft Outlook

Why Microsoft read one blogger’s emails

The recipient is an unidentified blogger outside of France, who then contacted another person to verify whether one of the leaked items was authentic. The same individual contacted Microsoft to alert them of possible theft. This prompted an internal investigation which involved the company reading the blogger’s emails without a court order.

Microsoft executive opens up about company policy

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) deputy general counsel/vice president of legal and corporate affairs John Frank claimed the company took extraordinary actions for the case. He added, “We apply a rigorous process before reviewing such content. In this case, there was a thorough review by a legal team separate from the investigating team and strong evidence of a criminal act that met a standard comparable to that required to obtain a legal order to search other sites. Courts do not, however, issue orders authorizing someone to search themselves, since obviously no such order is needed.”

Frank defended the practice and he’s backed up by the company’s terms of services. More specifically, the terms of service claims the user must agree Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has the right to access, disclose, or user’s personal emails and information at times the company thinks is necessary.

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Nate Cardozo added, “In this case, it does appear that Microsoft’s terms of service permit the company to have taken the action that it did from our perspective, it was clearly not the right thing for Microsoft to have done this.”

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) recently changed a few of their policies in an effort to cover certain situations. The case is still in progress and there is a legal team separate from the investigation team to assess whether there was enough for a court order.

Source: CNET, TheVerge