Microsoft recently admitted that it went through a blogger’s Hotmail account to collect evidence of a leak by an employee. The proof led to the arrest of Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee who leaked Windows 8 files and Microsoft Activation Server Software Developer Kit to a French blogger. Microsoft was well within its rights to access the account, even though it may border on violation of privacy. The company’s privacy policy states that it can access content of communications “to protect the rights or property of Microsoft.” After this story broke, Google was accused of doing the same through Gmail. The company has formally denied allegations.

Former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington recently alleged that Google had accessed his Gmail account a few years ago to weed out a leaker. Arrington says he had received information which helped him break a major story about Google. He says he’s “nearly certain” Google accessed his Gmail account, but that he didn’t say anything at the time because he didn’t want people to stop sharing information with the scribe.

Google has directly responded to the allegations, denying the possibility of it snooping through any Gmail account for that matter. The company’s general counsel Kent Walker says that while Google’s terms of service might legally permit access, “we have never done this,” and that its hard for him to imagine a circumstance where the company would investigate a leak in this manner.

Arrington has chosen not to comment on Google’s reply, he declined when contacted by re/code. Most of us often don’t go through entire privacy policies or terms of service agreements because frankly, who has the time. The fact is that they do offer email providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo permission to look into email accounts if the company’s intellectual property or trade secret is at stake.

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