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Microsoft searched blogger's Hotmail to find Windows 8 leak

Firm searched a blogger’s emails during probe into former employee who was accused of leaking company secrets

Seattle: Microsoft on Thursday said reviewing the Hotmail account of a French blogger thought to be in possession of leaked Windows 8 documentation was legal and done to protect its valuable IP.

“As part of the investigation, we took the step of a limited review of this third party’s Microsoft operated accounts,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said today, adding, “While Microsoft's terms of service make clear our permission for this type of review, this happens only in the most exceptional circumstances.”

At issue is the case of Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee who was arrested this week for leaking Windows 8 documentation to a French blogger prior to the new operating system’s release. That in itself is an interesting story, but even more eye-opening was how Redmond identified Kibkalo as the culprit.

The unnamed blogger in question emailed a source using a Hotmail address in an effort to get some context on the documents provided by Kibkalo. That source contacted then-Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. He notified Microsoft’s TWCI division, which got permission for “content pulls of the blogger’s Hotmail account.”

There, Redmond found emails from Kibkalo, including links to the documents in question.

This prompted questions about whether Microsoft should have secured a court order before it examined the blogger’s Hotmail account.

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