Microsoft SkyDrive Policy Primer


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Microsoft's File Hosting Cloud service will be heavily integrated for the new Windows 8 and Office 2013. This Policy Primer discusses Microsoft's Services Agreement and the Code of conduct outlined by the software provider.

By Alex Quan for NET303 - Internet Politics and Power, Curtin University

CC Attribtution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Published in: Education
1 Comment
  • Hi Alex
    I chose my comment on your policy primer as part of my assignment 2B. This is what I submited, I have also on Blackboard. Thank you for your kind comments on my primer.

    First, I would like to say that your Policy primer did a really helpful job of reviewing the ‘key features, and related issues, of the terms of use for SkyDrive. I found the key features to be similar across cloud based services. Amazon Web Services (AWS), which I summarised in my Primer and the iCloud primer, which I commented on, bundle their T&C’s with their other services (Birch, 2012) (Quan, 2012), (White, 2012). This can be a problem because failing to obey these agreements may lead to forfeiture of other content across multi platforms.

    John Zittrain (2009), states “If you entrust your data to others, they can let you down or outright betray you”. Service providers prohibit offensive content by crawling your content looking for such material. And should they find any, they can confiscate your stored data and refer such activity to the Authorities. To me, this is akin to the owner a lock up storage facility, constantly inspecting a customer’s private belongings and confiscating everything if they found anything they didn’t like. I have noticed a disparity regarding the legitimacy of digital data ownership. Unlike paper files, digital files may be indiscriminately perused then appropriated. When we do the same to them they call it piracy.

    Even if your content is squeaky clean, if it is linked to a site that violates their code of conduct, you also breach their code of conduct (Quan, 2012). Due to the dynamic nature of the web, a site may violate SkyDrive’s T&C’s after having been linked. This takes compliance out of the control of the user. Non-compliance of SkyDrive’s code of conduct has dire repercussions. Service providers can and do disable all the services that you have registered with them (Quan, 2012). If this happened to me, as an online student, it would be a catastrophe. After reading all these primers I am seriously thinking of changing to an open source OS for my personal computer.
    Trevor Birch

    Birch, T. (2012). Postcards to Amazon. Retrieved from
    Quan, A. (2012) Microsoft SkyDrive Policy Primer. Retrieved from
    White, J. (2012). iCloud Terms of Service. Retrieved from
    Zittrain, J. (2009). Lost in the Cloud. The New York Times, 19 July. Retrieved from
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Microsoft SkyDrive Policy Primer

  1. 1. WHAT’S MICROSOFT SKYDRIVE?Microsoft SkyDrive is a Cloud Based “freemium” file hosting service that can let you store any file and automatically makes available for access on most phones and computers with a web browser (Microsoft SkyDrive, 2012).By accessing and using SkyDrive you automatically agree to Microsoft Services Agreement that also applies to “Microsoft Hotmail, Microsoft SkyDrive, Microsoft account, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Microsoft Mail Desktop, Windows Live Writer (the foregoing are collectively referred to as the "Microsoft branded services"), Bing, MSN,, and any other software, website, or service that links to this agreement (collectively the "services").” (1.1) (Microsoft Service Agreement, 2012)This sounds fair as using the service does entail you to agree with its terms of use.
  2. 2. Currently Microsoft is offering new SkyDrive users free 7 GB of space which compares favourably to other main competitors, so what’s the catch?
  3. 3. DID YOU KNOW…SkyDrive has one of the strictest (and somewhat vague) terms of service compared to other providers including –• Prohibiting the upload, post, transmit, transfer of any content it deems offensive:• Depicts nudity of any sort including full or partial human nudity or nudity in non- human forms such as cartoons, fantasy art or manga• Incites, advocates, or expresses pornography, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity, hatred, violence, bigotry, racism.• Provides or creates links to external sites that violet this Code of Conduct (Code of Conduct, 2009)The code of conduct seems perfectly sound, and any reasonable person would agree to such conditions since we believe companies should protect users against things like child exploitation, and inciting hatred.
  4. 4. AND IF THE TERMS OF SERVICE OR CODE OFCONDUCT IS FOUND BROKENFor those who do not abide by the terms of service than Microsoft:• “May take action against you including (without limitation) remove your content from the services, suspending your access to the services, asking you to refrain from certain activities, canceling your services, and/or referring such activity to appropriate authorities… we may permanently delete, and you may permanently lose, some or all of your content stored on the services and/or we may cancel your services in their entirety (4.2) and have no obligation to return content to you (4.4)” (Microsoft Terms of Service, 2012).So when Microsoft finds content which it deems objectionable to its code of conduct, it could delete your content, disable all services you register with Microsoft, report to authorities, and have no obligation to return the content to you.
  5. 5. WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION…• What constitutes vulgarity, profane, or obscene and who makes the decisions with the content in question?• How would Microsoft be able to identify such content stored in SkyDrive?Possibly through automated crawlers designed to identify “nudity” and read your content in order to pick up key words. I wouldn’t wantNo doubt many users will be using SkyDrive’s services to store personal content, and these may include photos of unclothed new born babies or a holiday at the beach with everybody smiling back at the camera. Such photos are found in family albums, and as innocent as they are, may trigger false alarms by such web detectors.The problem is exasperated since SkyDrive services are linked to other services such as accessing Hotmail, Xbox and other Microsoft products, having false triggers suspending your account can be very problematic.
  6. 6. TAKE FOR INSTANCE…• A Dutch SkyDrive user by the name of “WingsOfFury” lost access to his Hotmail, Windows Live account, Xbox Live, and the 9 GB content he uploaded to a private SkyDrive folder. Contacting Microsoft, he was told his account was blocked as he violated the terms of service but would not explain what he had uploaded specifically that broke the rules, just that it was related to files that contained nudity, partial nudity, pornography or links to external sites of similar content (McCallion, 2012).• Another example was of a German photographer who had his account suspended after uploading 4 partial nude photos in which he kept in private folder and not shared to anyone else (Surur, 2012).
  7. 7. So by agreeing with Microsoft’s Terms of Service, Microsoft can block ALL your services associated without having to explain:• What the offending files were• Specifically why they were found objectionable• The files won’t even need to be in a shared folderThus taking away any chance for you, the user, to contest with the decisionmade.You may lose your Xbox account, email access, cloud storage, and any other services the software giant licenses to you. As the Terms of Service you’ve agreed to does not strictly mean SkyDrive, but all other Microsoft Services without limitation.
  8. 8. HANG ON THERE’S MORE!With the new Microsoft Office 2013 being released• Will be delivering deep integration with SkyDrive and collaboration through its recent acquisition Skype. Microsoft will give Office 2013 users a free 20 GB of space upgrade to their SkyDrive• “Office 2013 defaults to saving documents on SkyDrive” (Bradley & Brown, 2012)And with Windows 8 scheduled to make its debut on October 26th, Windows 8local user accounts can be linked to their Windows Live ID directly for seamlessinteroperability.This could mean Microsoft could decide whether or not you have access to yourown desktop login, and services attributed to Office applications if they were todisable your SkyDrive or Windows Live account.
  9. 9. IN SUM…Giving Microsoft such control to your access to their services can be dangerous.What if for whatever reason Microsoft decides your files are objectionable on your private SkyDrive, then you may be kicked out of the whole Microsoft Ecosystem. Microsoft could suspend your account and restrict• Your access to your SkyDrive, email, Xbox gaming console records• Your access to Office application functionality and associated documents• Your access to associated Live services which may be connected to your Windows 8 desktop/laptop, Windows 8 tablet, or Windows powered mobile phone• All without obligation to reinstating deleted data, nor held accountable for loss of content and cancel your services in their entirety without explaining why or what file it was that broke the Code of Code held in your own private SkyDrive folder.
  10. 10. REFERENCESBradley, T., Brown, Michael. (2012). Microsoft Office 2013 Preview: Hands On. Retreived 12th October, 2012, from ons.htmlCode of Conduct. (2009). Retrieved 11th October, 2012, from US/skydrive/compareMcCallion, J. (2012). Microsoft SkyDrive accounts suspended for alleged T&Cs abuse. Retrieved 12th October, 2012 from cloud/4137/microsoft-skydrive-accounts-suspended-alleged-tcs-abuseMicrosoft Skydrive. (2012). Retrieved 11th October, 2012, from US/skydrive/homeMicrosoft Skydrive comparison chart [Image]. (2012). Retrieved 11th October, 2012, from, M. (2012). Windows 8 and the Cloud: SkyDrive. Retrieved 12th October, 2012, from,2817,2409155,00.aspSurer [Pseudonym]. (2012). What what you store on SkyDrive-you may lose your Microsoft life. Retrieved 12th October, 2012, from skydriveyou-may-lose-your-microsoft-life/