Microsoft Spy Document

There has been a lot of hoopla about the sharing of a document referred to as “Microsoft Spy”. The actual title is Microsoft Online Services – Global Criminal Compliance Handbook. The real interesting thing here is that this normally sensitive information is out there on the Internet. However the document just confirms the existence of procedures used a Microsoft to respond to things such as subpoenas and court orders.

A good thing about this Microsoft Spy document is that they give a great overview of Microsoft services, along with the type of information Microsoft collects and how long they keep it. Some of the services listed include email, instant messaging, newsgroups, and Xbox. Registration records are kept for 30 days. Email contents are restricted to emails the user decides to keep on Microsoft servers.

Microsoft always seems to be logging IP addresses. This includes the normal ones such as the IP address of the author of content uploaded to their site. However this also includes the IP address of anybody who posts a comment online. The other surprising fact is that Microsoft will keep a history of the last 10 IP addresses from which you accessed their Windows Live services. Is that big brother watching me now?

This hubbub about the Microsoft record retention is nothing special. They are merely complying with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). There are times when a company is required by law to turn over records. If you have a subpoena or court order, Microsoft will give you the basic info it collects. And if you got a search warrant, Microsoft will turn over all the information it keeps. As long as you realize this and act accordingly, I don’t think you have anything to get excited about.