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Microsoft sued for sharing Office 365 user data with Facebook and others

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A group of Office 365 customers have filed a lawsuit against Microsoft over data allegedly shared with Facebook and other third parties without consent.

Microsoft stands accused of breaching its pledge not to give out customer data to third parties and to share information with subcontractors only when absolutely necessary.

The complainants in the case - Frank Russo, Koonan Litigation Consulting and Sumner Davenport & Associates - assert that Microsoft has provided hundreds of subcontractors with customer data without due cause, some of which have subsequently suffered data breaches.

The court filing also claims Microsoft uses customer emails, documents, calendars, location data and more to inform the development of future products, in such a way that violates the US Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act and consumer protection laws.

Microsoft data sharing lawsuit

The lawsuit focuses primarily on data supposedly shared with social media giant Facebook, unbeknownst to (and without the consent of) Office 365 customers. According to the complaint, the automatic nature of the data sharing arrangement means customers are rendered unable to protect their privacy.

“Contrary to its representations, Microsoft has regularly shared - and continues to share - its business customers’ data with Facebook and other third parties. The data is shared even when neither the customers nor their contacts are Facebook users,” states the court filing. 

“Even if a customer discovers and disables this Facebook-sharing ‘feature’ after activating Office 365 or Exchange Online services, the damage has already been done.”

The filing goes on to explain that, once delivered, the data cannot be deleted by anyone but Facebook and could also be utilized by any company Facebook chooses to collaborate with.

Microsoft disputes the accusations, however, which it claims are vague and almost certainly unfounded.

“We’re aware of the suit and will review it carefully. However, while the allegations themselves are not very specific, as we understand them we don’t believe they have merit,” said the firm.

“We have an established history of both robust privacy protections and transparency, and we’re confident that our use of customer data is consistent with the instructions of our customers and our contractual commitments.”

Via The Register