Posted by Peter CullenChief Privacy Strategist
This week, more than 400 policymakers, privacy advocates and industry representatives will be converging in Israel for the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.
The conference has commenced this morning in Jerusalem, a city of both ancient traditions and thoroughly modern influences, and I was reminded of how that same dynamic is true of privacy in the Internet age. Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data. These privacy guidelines have served as the basis for numerous privacy laws in place across the globe. Yet, even these privacy principles need to keep pace with the changing information environment. In my remarks today at a panel discussion titled “Notice and Consent: Illusion or Reality?”, I suggested that individual participation through mediums such as notice and consent remains important to safeguarding users’ privacy, but by itself does not afford enough protection. This is particularly true given the explosion of information collection and use that is the fuel of today’s Internet economy. The same is true of the various legal frameworks that govern data collection, usage, and sharing. Both are important, but neither is sufficient on its own.
Alongside individual participation and regulatory oversight, another vital aspect of privacy protection is often overlooked: the role and responsibility of the organization in maintaining and protecting personal data.
Microsoft’s view, as outlined in a new white paper released today at the conference, is that organizations’ privacy policies and data management practices most directly influence whether users’ personal information is kept safe or exposed to risk. Therefore, we believe that organizations—including Microsoft—must hold themselves accountable for acting to protect users’ interests and taking appropriate measures to safeguard privacy and personal data, even in the absence of specific regulatory mandates.
More and more government officials are recognizing that, for their country or region to thrive, they need to foster local innovation. And to do so, they are increasingly looking to students – especially those studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – as the key to success.
Over the past 4 months, Imagine Cup students from across the globe who won their regional competitions have been celebrated by their government leaders for their technological feats. These leaders recognize that it’s not enough to just hope that students study STEM fields. They acknowledge the importance of prestigious technology competitions such as the Imagine Cup in inspiring students to get excited about and pursue an education or career in science and technology.
With more than 325,000 students registering worldwide last year, the Imagine Cup is now the world’s premier student technology competition – challenging students to use technology to solve the world’s toughest problems. As you’ll see in the photos below, the finalists of last year’s competition have been hailed as national heroes because of their creative thinking and passion for designing solutions to solve real-world problems.
Last week, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, literally brought the point home about the importance of innovation to drive growth when he announced the city’s partnership with Microsoft to host the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals next July.
Enjoy this celebration of the confluence of ingenuity and social consciousness!
On October 18th, two Imagine Cup 2010 finalists were invited to participate in the first annual White House Science Fair. Wilson To from the Mobilife team and Christian Hood from BeastWare had the opportunity to meet President Obama, standing among 60 students from across the nation that were recognized for their creative thinking and innovations in science, technology, engineering and math. You can read more about the White House Science Fair on the Imagine Cup blog.
Posted by Ted MacLeanGeneral Manager, Open Solutions Group
Last week, I took part in a Gartner Symposium panel discussion about rights and responsibilities of cloud computing customers, a panel that mirrored the analyst firm’s recently published report developed with their Gartner Global IT Council. It was a great discussion about IT governance and the nuances that cloud computing brings into the client relationship. There were representatives from Accenture, Salesforce.com and handful of enterprise companies, so it was a virtual guarantee that opinions would vary.
But one thing stood out through all the discussion: despite all the customer case studies, technical specifications and beta testing that vendors provide, there’s still a high level of uncertainty among customers. Specifically, companies want to ensure that any relationship with a cloud computing vendor is designed, first and foremost, to meet the needs of their business. They also want to make sure that any applications or data deployed on a public cloud are an extension of their IT network, rather than an “island” in the cloud. As I heard I heard one CIO on the panel say, “The issue is to balance the compelling financial case with the risk of execution and what it means for your business.”
For all the benefits of cloud computing, business and IT executives can’t let go of the fact that they’re giving up a certain amount of control of some of their business resources. To help address these concerns, Gartner convened representatives from more than 300 enterprise companies. Their goal was to develop a bill of rights and responsibilities for cloud services that could help “standardize” what customers should and shouldn’t expect from their cloud computing vendors. The expectation is that this list will expand as cloud computing continues to develop and mature.
Microsoft was one of a handful of vendors that provided feedback in a resulting “Vendor Response to Bill of Rights” report and we applaud efforts like Gartner’s to help customers address their concerns and fully embrace the potential of cloud computing. Finding the right balance in addressing customer as well as vendor concerns will be critical to the development of cloud computing. And we look forward to continuing this dialogue with our customers. Microsoft has also worked with the Business Software Alliance to develop the BSA Cloud Computing Guiding Principles which list factors and policies that are key to promote cloud computing.
Posted by Brendon LynchChief Privacy Officer and Senior Director, Trustworthy Computing
Last night, Microsoft was honored to accept the 2010 HP-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award for Technology. The award was presented by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the world’s largest association of privacy professionals, during the IAPP Privacy Academy conference in Baltimore, MD, USA. We won the award for U-Prove, a security and privacy-enhancing technology that helps people protect their identity-related information. U-Prove uses tokens that make it possible for people to protect their identities by enabling them to disclose only the minimum amount of information needed for a transaction – sometimes no personal information may be needed at all. We are delighted that our fellow privacy professionals have recognized the innovative nature of the U-Prove technology and Microsoft’s commitment to enable privacy in identity systems. We have taken an initial step to make the U-Prove technology broadly available to software developers under an open source license.
Microsoft recently released its 2010 Annual Report, and this week, we also released our Microsoft 2010 Citizenship Report.
The 2010 Microsoft Citizenship Report offers insight on Microsoft’s approach and outlook on economic, social, and environmental issues, as well as reporting on progress. How we conduct ourselves and our business is as important as delivering quality products and services. Our Citizenship goals and performance are a reflection of how we hold ourselves accountable as a global corporate citizen.
For more information and to download the complete report, start by reading this intro letter from Steve Ballmer and visiting the Microsoft UP blog. You can also review the 2010 Citizenship report online or download a copy here.