[German]Users of a Microsoft account – needed for Microsoft services or in Windows 10 – may facing a strange behaviro. Their Microsoft account may be suspended without a warning for life time. One reason could be OneDrive content, that violates Microsoft’s terms of service. A photo of the bathing children can cause your Microsoft account to be suspended – for lifetime – and you’ll be digitally exist no more.
I’m taking up the topic of ‘blocking Microsoft accounts’ again, which has been bogged down here in the blog for quite some time. The background is that I am coordinating with my Windows Insicer MVP colleague Martin Geuß on this issue.
Problem: Microsoft account suddenly blocked
Whoever acquires a (free) Microsoft account for Windows 10, OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, Office, Teams etc. in a private environment is taking a risk. Martin Geuß and myself have discovered that Microsoft can block such an account for life at any time and without warning. And this is no joke, it happens – since 2019 we have collected over 40 cases. I have it picked up in my blog post Stop: Arbitrary blocking of Microsoft Accounts . A user facing this block, no longer exists.
OneDrive content is actively scanned
Martin and I are driven by the question why Microsoft seems to block accounts arbitrarily? The users affected didn’t get a reason why the account has been shut down. But I had mentioned in my old blog post Stop: Arbitrary blocking of Microsoft Accounts VPN accesses as one reason. The second reason for a block might be content on OneDrive. Martin Geuß noticed that people affected had uploaded large amounts of photos to their OneDrive before the sudden block. Now it has long been known that Microsoft scans the OneDrive contents for corresponding material, which the company believes is illegal or undesirable.
Konto-Sperrfalle OneDrive: Vorsicht vor dem Upload privater Fotos https://t.co/BWEVUTYt9Z
— DrWindows (@DrWindows_de) August 13, 2020
Martin Geuß has therefore taken up this topic again and links to his German article at Dr. Windows in the tweet above. Martin explicitly refers to Section 3 (Code of Conduct.) of the Microsoft Service Agreement, which every owner of a Microsoft account accepts when setting up a Microsoft account:
iv. Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity).
This rubber paragraph is of course wonderful to apply to OneDrive content. Topless photos or children without nappies, with naked bodies (in the bathtub, playing games etc.), which are not objectionable in Germany, were banned in the USA – and the account suspension follows.
The problem is that you don’t even have to actively upload such pictures to OneDrive as a user – you could control such things. Microsoft or the developers create apps like the OneDrive client in such a way that it automatically takes care of files on the hard drive and synchronizes them with the OneDrive storage. Then it’s not long before photos from WhatsApp groups or the like are synchronized with OneDrive. Martin goes into more detail here and writes that the AI for evaluating files and pictures works similarly with Dropbox, Google, Microsoft etc.
Long speech short conclusion: Leave your photos out of the cloud – and I would go even further and say: Do without the cloud and Microsoft accounts – which is what this article is all about. I’m also thinking of Microsoft teams or other services, where photos may be exchanged with third parties, which are then checked by AI and may lead to account suspension.