It isn’t just Microsoft, but Apple, Google, and Yahoo have the right to read your email without your consent, the Guardian has learned. But you know what’s interesting? Users grant them these rights.
The Microsoft story — in an alleged attempt to hunt down the source of an internal leak, the company accessed a journalist’s Hotmail account — has shed light on the rights email providers have or claim for themselves.
Have you read the terms and conditions of the iCloud services you signed onto? The vast majority of us don’t. And Microsoft isn’t the only email provider preserving the right to access users’ accounts. Here is a paragraph from Apple’s iCloud Terms and Conditions:
Apple reserves the right to take steps Apple believes are reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement. You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or request; (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of Apple, its users, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by law.
Other email providers have exact the same rights as well.
Yahoo requires users to “acknowledge, consent and agree that Yahoo may access… your account information and Content… in a good faith belief that such access… is reasonably necessary to… protect the rights… of Yahoo.”
Google’s terms require the user to “acknowledge and agree that Google may access… your account information and any Content associated with that account… in a good faith belief that such access… is reasonably necessary to… protect against imminent harm to the… property… of Google”.
Now, since the Microsoft story made headlines, the company has penned a blog post in which they try to defend themselves and a move to gain further rights when it comes to looking into their users’ accounts.
Still shocked? Maybe it’s time to read the full Terms and Conditions before you start using an app or certain services.