Mar 28 2014, 3:46pm CDT | by Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A week after saying it was justified in snooping through a blogger's Hotmail account to track down a leaker of company software, Microsoft has changed course, saying it will refer such matters to law enforcement starting immediately.
The reversal, explained by general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post Friday, follows last week's revelation that it searched through emails and instant messages of a blogger who Microsoft believed had received proprietary code illegally.
Smith now says the company "will not inspect a customer's private content ourselves" and will refer the matter to law enforcement if it believes its services are being used to facilitate theft of Microsoft property.
Microsoft Corp. owns Hotmail and the cloud storage service formerly known as SkyDrive. It alleged that the services were used so Kibkalo could transfer software files to the blogger, including a fix for the Windows 8 RT operating system that hadn't been released publicly.
The case spawned a wave of criticism, and Microsoft initially responded to it by saying that it would consult with an outside attorney who is a former judge to determine if a court order would be issued in similar searches in the future.
Many saw its initial response as inadequate.
"Last week's response was trying to create a mimic of due process with a shadow court that was run by Microsoft," said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate. "It was good to see Microsoft reconsidered."
Shares of the Redmond, Wash., company rose 94 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $40.30.
Microsoft blog: http://bit.ly/1k0sceA
Source: AP Business
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