An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft took some much-deserved flack last week for admitting they examined the emails of a Hotmail user who received some leaked Windows 8 code. The company defended their actions at the time. Now, after hearing the backlash, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith says they will not do so in the future. Instead, they'll refer it to law enforcement. He wrote, 'It's always uncomfortable to listen to criticism. But if one can step back a bit, it's often thought-provoking and even helpful. That was definitely the case for us over the past week. Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers. ...As a company we've participated actively in the public discussions about the proper balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the powers of government. We've advocated that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities. While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us.'"