This morning, I got the kind of e-mail that
most of us ignore: “Update to our terms of service” from Microsoft.
But I love waking up to read a good contract in the morning, so I
had a look at the summary
of changes to the “Microsoft Services
Agreement,” which applies to things like Skype, Office 365, OneDrive,
whole list of other services. The summary turned out to be a
27 bullet point document of mostly bland changes — except for point 5:
In the Code of Conduct section, we’ve clarified that use of offensive
language and fraudulent activity is prohibited. We’ve also clarified
that violation of the Code of Conduct through Xbox Services may result
in suspensions or bans from participation in Xbox Services, including
forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold Membership time, and
Microsoft account balances associated with the account.
through the full
text of the new agreement, I found the relevant change in Section
publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or
material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography,
offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity).
wait a sec: I can’t use Skype to have an adult video call with my
girlfriend? I can’t use OneDrive to back up a document that says
“fuck” in it? If I call someone a mean name in Xbox Live, not only
will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I’ve
deposited in my account? (And are we no longer allowed to shoot
people in Call
of Duty? Animated violence doesn’t really get any more
“graphic” than this Microsoft-approved video game offers.)
how are they going to enforce this ban? Are they going to be
looking through my Skype sessions? Section 3(b):
investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves
the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue.
clear here is that Microsoft is reserving the right to cancel your
account whenever they feel like it. They do nothing to define
“offensive language” (or “graphic violence,” for that matter) and in
2018 when anyone can be offended by anything, these terms allow
Microsoft staff to play unrestrained censor if and when they choose.
Given that Google’s YouTube uses that power to remove politically
“sensitive” videos (like those
on legal firearm modifications), should we expect that Microsoft
will also be removing content and users to earn PR points with the
politically correct movement du
also clear is that they reserve the right to go through your private
data, and these terms seem to pretty clearly allow them to watch and
listen to your Skype calls, so long as they are “investigating”
something. The terms don’t appear to require any complaint to be
filed against you — just that an employee decide that they want to
be setting my Skype account not to renew itself.
I’ve been banned from Reddit’s /r/Microsoft for sharing this story…