A confidential Microsoft document, the Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, was leaked all over the internet by Cryptome.org, an organisation that focuses on publishing secret government documents.
The 22 page 'spy guide' revealed how Microsoft retains the user's information and gave detailed instructions as to how governments and law enforcement agencies can access them.
According to the previously covert document, Microsoft servers contain a vast pool of confidential information pertaining to Microsoft user accounts from all over the world that can be accessed by government agencies and law enforcement organisations to track unlawful activities or criminals suspected of terrorism, murder, kidnapping or any other crime for that matter.
The company allows law enforcement agencies to view user information such as IP addresses, credit cards, chat logs, usernames and email addresses provided that they have a subpoena, a court order or a warrant.
Interestingly, the document indicated that Microsoft archives a massive amount of sensitive user data, compiled from various Microsoft services including Windows Live ID, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Spaces, Xbox Live and Windows Live SkyDrive.
However now, Microsoft has managed to get a legal lock on Cryptome.org by the means of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act when the site owners refused to remove the document from the website. The site is currently down.
The website, which resembles Wikileaks, did publish a number of other very interesting documents as well. You can purchase two DVDs containing the complete archives of Cryptome since June 1996 for $25. That's 54,000 files and more than 80,000 pages.