Be aware of your digital footprint

So the Internet is abuzz about the fact that Microsoft has a document entitled “Microsoft Online Services Global Criminal Compliance Handbook“. The document was leaked to Cryptome, and as soon as MSFT found out they sent a DMCA takedown notice to Network Solutions. The proverbial cat is out of the bag, as the document has been well circulated; but I’m left wondering what’s the big deal?

In our litigious society, any service provider is pretty much obligated to keep track of who does what in the event of a lawsuit. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Microsoft retains some generic records about who does what on their various services. It should also come as no surprise that an organization as big as Microsoft has been the recipient of lots of subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders over the years. So it makes sense that Microsoft would develop a document to detail what they can provide, and how it can be obtained.

I would expect Google to have a similar document, and we already know that Facebook and other popular destinations have such documents.

The real moral of the story here is to remember that what you do online leaves a very real trace, and that companies and websites hang on to those traces — sometimes for a very long time. Don’t assume that because no one is actively looking over your shoulder that what you type into that email or instant messaging conversation is private. If you want real privacy, figure out how to use strong encryption.

Via Gizmodo, and lots of other sites.