Microsoft relents; Cryptome returns

Microsoft withdraws its complaint and cranks up the PR machine about its privacy policies.

Cryptome is back online. The site, which leaked a document summarizing Microsoft's dealings with law enforcement agencies, was shuttered by its service provider, Network Solutions, after Microsoft filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint. Microsoft has since withdrawn the complaint and Network Solutions has pushed Cryptome live.

"We would like to notify you that Microsoft has contacted us regarding www.cryptome.org. Microsoft has withdrawn their DMCA complaint. As a result www.cryptome.org has been reactivated and this matter has been closed. Please allow time for the reactivation to propagate throughout the various servers around the world," Network Solutions wrote in an e-mail to John Young, Cryptome's proprietor.

Meanwhile, Microsoft turned on its PR machine and released a statement explaining its involvement in the case:

"Like all service providers, Microsoft must respond to lawful requests from law enforcement agencies to provide information related to criminal investigations. We take our responsibility to protect our customers [sic] privacy very seriously, so [we] have specific guidelines that we use when responding to law enforcement requests. In this case, we did not ask that this site be taken down, only that Microsoft copyrighted content be removed. We are requesting to have the site restored and are no longer seeking the document's removal," Microsoft said.

This is a good move by Microsoft. The statement paints the company not as a vengeful censor but rather a forgiving and open organization unwilling to share its customers' private information. And why shouldn't it? After the document was released and Cryptome was shut down, the blogosphere mercilessly railed against Microsoft. Microsoft has lately made efforts to appear more respectful of user's privacy than companies such as Google; upholding this image is vital.

But I cannot relinquish anxieties about certain aspects of Microsoft's Global Criminal Compliance Handbook. The pages about Office Online and Windows Live SkyDrive -- both cloud computing services -- were mere descriptions of the products themselves and did not even mention what kind of related data Microsoft holds. If Microsoft is going to present itself as protecting our privacy, it needs to explain how it's protecting our privacy.

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Brennon Slattery

PC World (US online)
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