“By accepting this agreement and using the software you agree that Microsoft may collect, use, and disclose the information as described in the Microsoft Privacy Statement (aka.ms/privacy), and as may be described in the user interface associated with the software features.”
The terms say that if you use services like their e-mail or cloud storage, or music services that they collect the information necessary to upload the file. But that’s true with any cloud service and any platform.
“We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the services you use. This includes: the content of your documents, photos, music or video you upload to a Microsoft service such as OneDrive. It also includes the content of your communications sent or received using Microsoft services.”
Microsoft shares your data when you give them consent to complete transactions or when you e-mail photos or documents or attempt to link accounts together. In your privacy agreement, Microsoft lists when it will share your data with third parties.
1. “Comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies.”
This mean that if the FBI or the NSA show up with a warrant issued by the courts, they’ll let them see the files. But the same thing holds true for Apple or Google. Their terms of service say the very same thing. Even if a company’s terms of service don’t say this, if the Feds show up with a warrant, they’ll turn over the information. If the police show up at your house with a warrant and want your PC files, they’ll take it. This isn’t some special deal between Microsoft and government. It’s the same law that we’re all subject to. Whether or not the law should be this way is debatable. But that’s not something companies have a choice about complying with.
2. “Protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone.” Again, not unusual terms. You’ll find them in nearly any user agreement for online services or operating systems.
3. “Operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks.”
4. “Protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.”
Number 4 upset a lot of people who do a lot of illegal downloading. But, they don’t say they’ll get into your files, just that they’ll call the police.
“It may be necessary – by law, legal, process, litigation and/or requests from public and govermental authorities within or outside your country of residence for Apple to disclose your personal information.”
“We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google is we have a good-faith belief that access, use preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to meet an applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request.”
Both companies go on to detail almost identical terms of disclosure of your information as Microsoft’s
Do companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook have more of your information than ever before? Yep, as more and more information is stored online and transmitted to other people, it’s a fact of life that many people don’t like.
But there’s no indication that Microsoft has a special deal with the government or that your giving up any more privacy dealing with them than you are with other tech giants.