Microsoft is changing its terms of services for OneDrive, Outlook.com, Bing, MSN.com, and other services in an effort to make the agreement more transparent and easier to understand, the company said.
The changes, which will take take effect July 31, include “explicitly stating what we’ve said in past, that we don’t use people’s documents, photos or other personal files or what they say in email, chat, video calls or voice mail to target advertising to them,” Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s general manager of search, cloud and content, said in a blog post this week.
The changes also include condensing into a single list the activities that can result in a customer’s account being closed.
In addition, the company’s updated Windows Services Privacy Statement, which covers Microsoft account, Outlook.com and OneDrive, now states that in cases where the company suspects that someone is using its services to traffic in stolen Microsoft intellectual or physical property, it will not inspect the customer’s private content, but may instead refer the matter to law enforcement.
That was in response to an incident earlier this year in which a former Microsoft employee was charged by federal prosecutors with stealing Microsoft trade secrets and giving that information to a tech blogger. (That former employee, Alex Kibkalo, plead guilty and was sentenced to three months in prison.)
Microsoft received a lot of criticism for finding out about Kibkalo by looking at the Hotmail.com account of the blogger. The company had said, in response to the criticism, that its own terms of service allowed it to carry out such an examination under “exceptional circumstances.” But later, Microsoft said that, in such circumstances in the future, it would call in law enforcement to inspect a customer’s content, rather than doing so itself.