Posted by Peter Cullen Chief Privacy Strategist
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce is holding a symposium
in Washington, D.C. to examine the important nexus between privacy and
innovation in the online world. The meeting, hosted by Commerce
Secretary Gary Locke, is part of the department’s recently announced
comprehensive review of Information
Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy.
I have been invited to participate on a panel at today’s event that
will look at how U.S. and international privacy protections and
enforcement are working in practice, and explore how the U.S. legal
system can influence privacy protection in the private sector and
This review is coming at a critical juncture. Social media and
mobile computing are pushing societal boundaries and expectations around
privacy. At the same time, increasing flows and aggregation of data
brought about by cloud computing, ambiguities in domestic privacy laws
and fissures in the global regulatory framework are accelerating the
need for updated online privacy protections. Each of these trends
present challenges for organizations seeking to responsibly manage data
across geographical boundaries while minimizing risk. Microsoft and our
industry partners called on Congress to enact comprehensive federal
privacy legislation four years ago, and the rapid pace of change in the
Internet environment is making our call for baseline privacy protections
even more urgent.
My comments today will focus on Microsoft’s fundamental belief that
the right balance between innovation and privacy protection can indeed
be achieved. To accomplish this goal, baseline privacy legislation needs
to be flexible, applicable across sectors and technology neutral. It
can build upon the current regulatory framework and should operate in
tandem with elements of existing self-regulation, enforcement,
privacy-enhancing technologies and sound business practices. Getting the
balance right will also require close cooperation between industry,
government, advocates and consumers. Today’s event is an important step
in fostering that dialogue.
Posted by Pamela Passman Corporate Vice President, Global
Earlier today I attended the 2010 Voices of Courage Awards luncheon in New York
hosted by the Women's
Refugee Commission, an organization that advocates for laws,
policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of
refugee and displaced women and young people.
The Women’s Refugee Commission emerged a decade ago as a leading
advocate for protection of women and unaccompanied children in the
United States. The Commission identified the need for legal
representation for the thousands of children who were appearing in U.S.
immigration court without a lawyer, despite the formal proceedings and
the sometimes life-and-death consequences of the judge’s ruling. The
Commission has also undertaken incredible work developing and
identifying economic opportunities for refugee women and children. We
share a common belief that providing sustained social and economic
opportunities for underserved populations, especially young people, is
key to building thriving communities and a better world.
During the event a number of incredible stories of how people and
organizations are working to address the refugee issue were showcased.
Among those recognized was Amalia Guzmán Molina, who is originally
from El Salvador and founded Families of the Incarcerated, which works
with the families of those who have been detained by immigration
services in the United States. Also honored was Deogratias Niyizonkiza,
who was born in Burundi and spent time in the United States before
setting up Village Health Works, a non-profit organization providing
free health care in Burundi to more than 28,000 patients, many of them
refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.
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.
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.