Like Microsoft, Apple Reserves Right to Read Customers’ Emails

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is still dealing with the fallout over its decision to snoop in the Hotmail inbox of a reporter who had leaked several early screenshots of Windows 8. Although Microsoft’s investigation allowed it to identify the employee who leaked the information, the company is now under fire for invading the privacy of one of its email accountholders. However, a statement from Microsoft deputy general counsel John Frank made it clear that the company was acting within its rights under its terms of service. “While Microsoft’s terms of service make clear our permission for this type of review, this happens only in the most exceptional circumstances,” wrote Frank in a company blog post.

Although Microsoft has been widely criticized by privacy advocates over its decision to access a reporter’s email account, a recent investigation by The Guardian revealed that Microsoft isn’t the only tech company that reserves the right to read users’ emails. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and several other major tech companies have similarly worded terms of service that also give those companies the same privilege.

According to Apple’s iCloud Terms and Conditions, “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.”

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