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"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," said Smith, in a blog post on the software company's website. "Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required."
Microsoft - which has recently cast itself as a defender of customer privacy - was harshly criticized last week by civil liberties groups after court documents made public in the prosecution of Alex Kibkalo in Seattle federal court for leaking trade secrets showed that Microsoft had accessed the defendant's email account before taking the matter to legal authorities.