Posted by Annmarie Levins Associate General Counsel
Today I am testifying before a House
Judiciary Subcommittee that is contemplating reforms to the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), an important but
increasingly outdated law passed by Congress in 1986. Microsoft is part
of a broad coalition that supports modernization of the legislation.
ECPA regulates whether and how law enforcement can compel third-party
telecommunications and Internet service providers to disclose user
account information and customers’ stored communications. ECPA was
originally designed to strike a balance between the legitimate needs of
law enforcement, the burdens on service providers in responding to
government demands for data and the public’s reasonable expectation of
In the nearly quarter-century since ECPA became law, the balance has
shifted between the rights of users and law enforcement. Technological
advancements—rather than decisions by Congress—have put more of our
sensitive personal information within the reach of law enforcement.
As our General Counsel Brad Smith stated in his speech
at the Brookings Institution in January, Microsoft believes that
now is a critical time to address these issues. We are on the cusp of a
potentially transformative age in Internet-based “cloud computing.”
Cloud computing services have the potential to increase efficiencies for
businesses and government, lower IT costs, create energy savings and
spur innovative job-creating enterprises. They can enable small and
medium-sized businesses, individual entrepreneurs and other innovators
to tap into computing resources that previously had been available only
to the largest companies. These capabilities can help drive innovation,
make American businesses more competitive and ultimately contribute to
But unless we are able to preserve and protect users’ privacy, the
potential of cloud computing will not be fulfilled. This is one reason
Microsoft has joined a broad coalition of advocacy groups, technology
companies, and academics in the launch of the Digital
Due Process Coalition. This Coalition is focused on updating ECPA
to account for the profound changes in technology over the last two
decades and to ensure that users’ legitimate expectations of privacy are
respected while also fulfilling the needs of law enforcement.
Posted by Pamela Passman Corporate Vice President, Global
Last March I was privileged to announce
an expansion of Microsoft’s Elevate
America program to address the specific challenges that face U.S.
military veterans and their spouses as they transition to civilian life.
Our Elevate America Veterans
Initiative will bring together a coalition of partners, through a
competitive grant process, to provide veterans and their spouses with a
host of services and resources, including technology skills training,
job placement, career counseling, childcare, transportation and housing.
The response to this initiative has been incredible, and we’re
fortunate to have support from great organizations such as The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan
Veterans of America, Paralyzed
Veterans of America, United Service
Organizations (USO) and Wounded
Warrior Project. They’ve agreed to act as our advisors, ensuring
that the programs and services offered will make a real difference in
the lives of veterans.
Today we’re releasing a request for
proposals to organizations across the country that want to get
involved. We’re encouraging all interested organizations to review the
eligibility criteria, partner with others in their local community and
apply for funding if they have programs that will help veterans succeed
in the civilian workforce.
Microsoft is grateful to America’s veterans for all they’ve done to
protect and serve our country, and we’re excited about this initiative.
We’ll be sharing more details as we move forward.
Posted by David Bowermaster Administrator, Microsoft on
For the past five years Corporate Counsel
magazine has conducted an annual review to identify the country’s
top in-house legal teams. This week, we were pleased to learn that
Corporate Counsel has named Microsoft Legal and Corporate Affairs the Best Legal Department
Corporate Counsel has published a lengthy
story online that reviews many of the accomplishments and
challenges overcome by Microsoft’s legal team in recent years, many of
which will be familiar to frequent readers of this blog. The online
content package includes a video
interview with Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, as well as
commentary from Corporate
Counsel Executive Editor Brian Zabcik on the magazine’s selection
process and the editors’ reasons for naming Microsoft this year’s
Folks in Redmond are feeling both honored and humbled by Corporate
Counsel’s accolades and want to congratulate their fellow honorees in
the legal departments at Discover Financial Services, Hewlett-Packard
Company and The Williams Companies.
Posted by Tim Cranton Associate General Counsel, Microsoft
Digital Crimes Unit
Online advertising fuels much of the Internet activity we enjoy
today, enabling free services and unprecedented content flows. For
this marketplace to continue enabling rich online experiences, it needs
to be based on a trusted platform. Advertisers need to have confidence
they are getting what they pay for.
Unfortunately, deceitful online activity known as ‘click fraud’
undermines the integrity of the online advertising market, skewing the
platform decidedly against advertisers. For this reason, Microsoft’s Digital
Crimes Unit has been working with Microsoft Advertising and
others in the online advertising space to identify and address fraud as
it evolves. Towards that end, Microsoft this week filed two federal
lawsuits against perpetrators of what we believe to be a new and complex
form of click fraud that we refer to as “click laundering.”
Click fraud typically occurs when a person or computer program
imitates a legitimate Web surfer and clicks on an online ad for the
purpose of generating a fraudulent “charge-per-click,” without having
any interest in the target of the ad’s link.
Click laundering is a technically-advanced form of click fraud
designed to circumvent fraud detection systems by hiding the origins of
fraudulent clicks – “laundering” them through apparently legitimate
One form of click laundering involves computers infected with
malicious software that delivers rogue search results. Without the
user’s knowledge, the infected computer mimics a legitimate search
engine, but returns search results adulterated with useless parked
domains – i.e., Web addresses that appear to be relevant search results,
but contain no meaningful content. The unwitting user opens one of the
parked domains, clicks a link or two, realizes it’s not what he or she
is looking for and closes the window. What seems like a harmless
digital dead end is, in fact, a laundered ad click that appears
legitimate to an ad platform provider such as Microsoft but offers no
value to the advertiser who would be charged for it.