Microsoft Looked Through Reporter's Hotmail And MSN Chat Accounts To Identify Windows 8 Leaker
from the scroogled? dept
Apparently, Microsoft’s desire to track down someone who leaked screenshots of Windows 8 is so strong that it’s willing to violate its own privacy guidelines and promises to the public — even if it means undermining Microsoft’s main promotional campaign for email services.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft promoted Mark Penn to chief strategy officer. Penn is most famous as a PR man and political pollster who was the driving force behind Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign for President in 2008. He’s known for his negative attack ads and his claims to do everything based on data — though, people who have explored some of his techniques say it’s a lot more flimflam than actual statistical analysis. His main contribution to Microsoft over the past few years seems to be its ridiculous “Scroogled” campaign, in which Microsoft — a company not at all known for its privacy protections — attempts to portray Google as being bad on privacy. The campaign has been a colossal and expensive flop according to most.
Either way, you’d think that for a company who’s main marketing strategy these days is all about how it protects the privacy of your email account wouldn’t then break into a user’s email account. But that’s exactly what Microsoft apparently did in tracking down the guy who leaked Windows 8 to a reporter. Alex Kibkalo, a software architect for Microsoft, sent a French blogger some Windows 8 code and the way to get around its anti-piracy measures. The French blogger posted screenshots and also emailed Microsoft for comment — and that’s when Microsoft apparently decided to throw its privacy promises out the window:
The engineer was caught after the blogger emailed Microsoft to confirm the authenticity of the leaked Windows 8 code. Investigators at the firm then reportedly looked through the blogger’s hotmail account and instant messenger chats to identify the source of the leak, and found an email from Kibaklo.
Of course, Hotmail today has morphed into Outlook.com, and the current ad campaign about it states: “Outlook.com prioritizes your privacy!” and “Your email is nobody else’s business.” Oh really? I guess Microsoft considers it their business. It’s kind of astounding, first, that Microsoft did this, and second that they appear to openly admit that you have no privacy at all in your email if Microsoft suddenly decides it wants to dig through and dig up something.
Update: And, from the criminal complaint we see, indeed, that Microsoft figured it was fine to violate this journalist’s privacy: