Two days ago, a former Microsoft employee was arrested and charged of divulging trade secrets to a French blogger, using Windows Live Messenger to send the links of files stored on OneDrive and email to a Hotmail address.

Microsoft discovered everything by reading emails and instant messages of the blogger on his Hotmail accounts.

Microsoft’s Hotmail privacy policy clearly states that the company can access the personal information of an individual to protect the company’s intellectual property. Since, the exchange of emails and messages between the ex-employee Alex Kibkalo occurred through Microsoft service, therefore the company doesn’t need a judicial warrant to authorize the search, or access the information stored on their own servers.

“Courts do not issue orders authorizing someone to search themselves, since obviously no such order is needed,” Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel John Frank said.

“So even when we believe we have probable cause, it’s not feasible to ask a court to order us to search ourselves. However, even we should not conduct a search of our own email and other customer services unless the circumstances would justify a court order, if one were available.”

He further added, “We believe that Outlook and Hotmail email are and should be private. Today there has been coverage about a particular case. While we took extraordinary actions in this case based on the specific circumstances and our concerns about product integrity that would impact our customers, we want to provide additional context regarding how we approach these issues generally and how we are evolving our policies.”

Microsoft has clarified in a blog post that the future reading of emails will only take place under certain circumstances that justify a judicial warrant. The investigation will include the submission of evidence to a federal prosecutor outside. The research will be limited to information that is strictly related to the case. Finally, to ensure the maximum transparency, Microsoft will release a report that will specify the number of accounts and searches involved in every two years.