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[liberationtech] Microsoft Shuts off HTTPS in Hotmail for Over a Dozen Countries

Bill Best at
Fri Mar 25 20:53:09 PDT 2011


Microsoft appears to have turned off the always-use-HTTPS option in
Hotmail for users in more than a dozen countries, including Bahrain,
Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Congo, Myanmar,
Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and
Kyrgyzstan. Hotmail users who have set their location to any of these
countries receive the following error message when they attempt to
turn on the always-use-HTTPS feature in order to read their mail

    Your Windows Live ID can't use HTTPS automatically because this
feature is not available for your account type.

Microsoft debuted the always-use-HTTPS feature for Hotmail in December
of 2010, in order to give users the option of always encrypting their
webmail traffic and protecting their sensitive communications from
malicious hackers using tools such as Firesheep, and hostile
governments eavesdropping on journalists and activists. For Microsoft
to take such an enormous step backwards— undermining the security of
Hotmail users in countries where freedom of expression is under attack
and secure communication is especially important—is deeply disturbing.
We hope that this counterproductive and potentially dangerous move is
merely an error that Microsoft will swiftly correct.

The good news is that the fix is very easy. Hotmail users in the
affected countries can turn the always-use-HTTPS feature back on by
changing the country in their profile to any of the countries in which
this feature has not been disabled, such as the United States,
Germany, France, Israel, or Turkey. Hotmail users who browse the web
with Firefox may force the use of HTTPS by default—while using any
Hotmail location setting—by installing the HTTPS Everywhere Firefox



Bill Best
Community Media Association

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