At the end of last week, news erupted about a Russian nationalist and ex-Microsoft employee that had performed a real life cloak-and-dagger operation against the software company, stealing pre-release Windows code and delivering it to a shady French blogger. However, any disdain for the miscreant's actions were almost immediately overshadowed by the reported fact that Microsoft had intruded into the blogger's Hotmail account to uncover the operation. Per the Hotmail terms and conditions, Microsoft had every right to do it, but there was public outcry over the NSA-like intrusion, nonetheless. And, somewhere in the midst of the news, Microsoft became the bad guy. Incredible.

As public hullabaloo increased, Microsoft promised to make changes. Today, Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel & Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs, took to the Microsoft on the Issues blog to outline the company's new stance on email protection and privacy.

Brad said…

Effective immediately, 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.

Brad goes on to say that, though the policy is now enacted, it won't be until the coming months (no date given) that the customer terms of service will be changed to reflect the new policy. He defends Microsoft's original actions, but understands that it was wrong in principle.

Read Brad's full post: We’re listening: Additional steps to protect your privacy