Microsoft Finally Helped New Zealand Police

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While seeking evidence that a suspect in New Zealand was the member of a burglary ring, authorities in the country tried obtaining details about the man and were rebuffed by Microsoft.

It took a court order for Microsoft to change its tune about not being subject to laws in New Zealand. Police wanted to identify a man who had provided his name, address, and phone number to Microsoft when attempting to purchase a part for a stolen Xbox 360.

A report at Stuff.co.nz said the man sought a replacement power cord from Microsoft. He gave the company the serial number from the game console, which had been stolen from a residence.

Then the person who had the Xbox stolen tried to let Microsoft know about it:

When the victim called Microsoft to report the theft, he was told the machine had already been registered. The victim complained to police, who contacted Microsoft.

Microsoft New Zealand product manager Thomas Hunt said privacy and safety of customer information was a "huge issue" for the company and the details could not be handed out. Though he conceded it was a criminal matter, Microsoft’s international policy required a court order before details could be passed to police.

"We genuinely would like to help as much as possible," he said.

Fortunately there was a happy ending for law enforcement. Once they obtained the necessary court order, they were able to arrest the 14-year-old suspect and two other people.

According to the report, a New Zealand-based company likely would have complied with the police request right away, Microsoft, being based in the US, did not have to do so without the court order.

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