FORTUNE -- Microsoft (MSFT) is not the only company that reserves the right to break into its customers' e-mail accounts. According to The Guardian's Alex Hern -- who actually read the user agreements that most of us blindly accept -- Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) do as well.
The issue came to light last week when Alex Kibkalo, a Russian-born former Microsoft employee living in Lebanon, was arrested on charges that he was selling off chunks of Windows 8 source code.
The complaint filed against him in a Seattle federal court included Hotmail exchanges between Kibkalo and a French blogger -- e-mail that Microsoft read, according to a statement released Friday, without a specific court order.
Curious whether other webmail providers reserve the right to poke around their customers' e-mail accounts, The Guardian's Hern did what few people do: He actually read the legal boilerplate the providers allow you to skip past by clicking the "Agree" button.
This is the relevant portion of Apple's iCloud agreement:
You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or request; (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of Apple, its users, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by law.
Apple's CEO Tim Cook didn't bring up the company's most talked-about rumors. And that may be very telling.
FORTUNE -- Listening to a Tim Cook interview is like watching an old episode of Seinfeld. Nothing really happens, so the trick is to interpret the nothingness.
For example, Cook said nothing in his appearance Tuesday morning at a Goldman Sachs (GS) conference in San Francisco about whether or not Apple (AAPL) will produce MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Feb 12, 2013 1:48 PM ET
An ignominious end to one of Steve Jobs' biggest embarrassments
FORTUNE -- "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?" Steve Jobs asked the team that created it shortly after a disastrous debut in 2008 that nearly ruined the launch of the iPhone 3G.
Having finally received a satisfactory answer, Jobs then asked (according to Adam Lashinsky's 2011 account in Fortune), "So why the fuck doesn't it do that?"
With that, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 1, 2012 6:55 AM ET
Is Wall Street expecting AAPL to get a post-conference bounce? You be the judge.
FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) World Wide Developers Conference -- its only remaining public event not explicitly linked to a product announcement -- is set to open in San Francisco Monday, and several analysts issued notes Friday telling their clients what to expect.
Merrill Lynch's Scott Craig: Clockwork-like software innovation is often overlooked. WWDC mainly serves to showcase the latest MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 8, 2012 10:44 AM ET
A round-up of Apple's latest milestones
No company is better at telling its story with nice round numbers than Apple (AAPL). Here, in the order they arrived, are the numbers it trotted out at Wednesday's iPad event:
362 Apple Stores
110 million customers in Q4
315 million iOS devices sold
62 million in Q4 alone
25 billion iOS apps downloaded
100+ million iCloud customers
15.4 million iPads sold in Q4
200,000+ apps designed for iPad
100+ competing tablets came to MORE
Motorola Mobility (and Google) give Cupertino a taste of its own patent medicine
Following a loss three weeks ago in Germany's Mannheim Regional Court, Apple (AAPL) late Thursday informed German iPhone customers that e-mail would no longer be "pushed" to their phones -- BlackBerry style -- through their iCloud or MobileMe services.
Pending Apple's appeal, which could take months, iPhone users in Germany will have to retrieve their e-mail the old-fashioned way: by MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 24, 2012 7:15 AM ET
The timing may be suspicious, but the OS looks more to Google than to Microsoft
"Apple Speeds Mac 'Mountain Lion' to Take On Windows 8" Bloomberg Businessweek
"Steve Jobs is gone, Windows 8 is coming and Apple panics" betanews
As predicted, the tech press spent much of the rest of the week trying to make sense of last Tuesday's news that the latest version of the Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, is due MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 19, 2012 12:07 PM ET
Fortune's curated selection of tech stories from the last 24 hours. Sign up to get the round-up delivered to you each and every day.
* Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco yesterday, addressing topics like working conditions in Chinese Foxconn factories, the runaway successes of the iPhone and iPad, and emerging markets. Cook also revealed there are now 100 million iCloud users -- 15 MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Feb 15, 2012 8:26 AM ET
Apple forced to pull older iPhones off its online store, faces an injunction on push e-mail
UPDATE: Sales of Apple's iPhones resumed Friday. See here.
- - -
It was a crazy day for Apple (AAPL) in Germany.
First it removed the iPhone 4 and 3GS from its German online store -- the first time, as far as we know, that the company has been forced to stop selling a product because of alleged MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 3, 2012 10:56 AM ET
Fortune's curated selection of tech stories from the weekend. Sign up to get the round-up delivered to you each and every day.
* According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple (AAPL) is plunging ahead with plans for a TV that may incorporate voice and gesture-based technology, a form of AirPlay that would let iPhones and iPads act as remote controls, DVR storage, and iCloud. (The Wall Street Journal)
* Why Amazon (AMZN) is willing to MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Dec 19, 2011 3:30 AM ET
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