Guardian: Apple reserves the right to read your iCloud e-mail

March 23, 2014, 2:05 PM UTC

FORTUNE — Microsoft (MSFT) is not the only company that reserves the right to break into its customers’ e-mail accounts. According to The Guardian‘s Alex Hern — who actually read the user agreements that most of us blindly accept — Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO) do as well.

The issue came to light last week when Alex Kibkalo, a Russian-born former Microsoft employee living in Lebanon, was arrested on charges that he was selling off chunks of Windows 8 source code.

The complaint filed against him in a Seattle federal court included Hotmail exchanges between Kibkalo and a French blogger — e-mail that Microsoft read, according to a statement released Friday, without a specific court order.

Curious whether other webmail providers reserve the right to poke around their customers’ e-mail accounts, The Guardian‘s Hern did what few people do: He actually read the legal boilerplate the providers allow you to skip past by clicking the “Agree” button. 

This is the relevant portion of Apple’s iCloud agreement:

You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or request; (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of Apple, its users, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by law.

LINK: Yahoo, Google and Apple also claim right to read user emails