April, 2011

  • Google’s misleading security claims to the government raise serious questions

    Posted by David Howard
    Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel

    Last Friday afternoon, I learned that a batch of court documents had been unsealed and had revealed one particularly striking development: the United States Department of Justice had rejected Google’s claim that Google Apps for Government, Google’s cloud-based suite for government customers, has been certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Given the number of times that Google has touted this claim, this was no small development.

    How did this all come about? Last year, the Department of the Interior selected Microsoft offerings for its new cloud-based email system. In October, Google responded by suing the Government. As a result, the work of engineers and IT professionals was replaced, at least temporarily, by filings by lawyers. This meant significant delay for the Department of the Interior, which was trying to save millions of dollars and upgrade the email services for its 88,000 employees. Google announced its lawsuit with a proclamation of support for “open competition.” It then touted the security benefits of Google Apps for Government. Google filed a motion for a preliminary injunction telling the court three times in a single document (see pages 18, 29, & 37), that Google Apps for Government is certified under FISMA.

    Google has repeated this statement in many other places as well. Indeed, for several months and as recently as this morning, Google’s website states, “Google Apps for Government – now with FISMA certification.” And as if that’s not sufficient, Google goes farther on another webpage and states "Google Apps for Government is certified and accredited under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)."

    Read more...

  • What’s at Stake in Microsoft v. i4i

    Today, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Microsoft v. i4i, which industry watchers have described as the most important and far-reaching intellectual property case of the year. As general counsels for prominent innovators in the United States today, we could not agree more.

    The case revolves around the standard of proof that must be met by those who seek to challenge the validity of a patent in court. The law states that patents, which are generally issued by the Patent Office solely on the basis of supporting information submitted by the patent applicant, are to be presumed valid. Since the 1980s, however, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees patent appeals, has required a challenge to a patent's validity be proved by a heightened standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” as opposed to the lower “preponderance of evidence” standard routinely applied in civil lawsuits. The issue is far more than a technicality, as it can have far-ranging effects on innovation and technology businesses.

    While patent law does not require it, Congress never intended it, and Supreme Court rulings have questioned it, the “clear and convincing” standard has been applied to all challenges - even when the patent examiner who approved a patent application never considered the evidence being used to prove that the patent is invalid.

  • Initial Revelations and Results of the Rustock Takedown

    Posted by Richard Boscovich
    Senior Attorney, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

    Almost three weeks ago, I blogged about the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit’s takedown of the Rustock botnet in an action dubbed “Operation b107.”

    The takedown has thus far proven to be very successful and, since that time, we’ve worked every day to keep Rustock down, and begin the process of undoing the damage that it has caused. Yesterday afternoon, we returned to the court for a hearing where those accused of operating the Rustock botnet could answer to the allegations, and dispute the need for the temporary restraining order.

    As we expected, they did not appear.

  • World Intellectual Property Day: Designing the Future

    Posted by Jason Albert
    Associate General Counsel for IP Policy & Strategy, Microsoft

    Today marks World Intellectual Property Day, an annual celebration of the role intellectual property plays in shaping the world around us. The theme for this year’s celebration is Designing the Future, with a focus on “the role of design in the marketplace, in society and in shaping the innovations of the future.”

    Given that design protection has traditionally focused on physical products – the shape of Hershey’s Kisses or the VW bug – it might not be intuitively obvious why a software company should be excited about this form of IP. But designs play an increasingly important role in the technology sector. Whether it is the elegant physical design of a smartphone or the innovative user interface of a software application, good design drives market enthusiasm for technology products. And as more and more of our daily activities migrate online and to the cloud, designs will migrate from the shapes of things made in factories to the shapes of things rendered on computer screens.

  • You can help fight child exploitation

    Posted by Bill Harmon
    Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

    As you may have seen on CNN or from one of many other media and online reports, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s DNA Foundation launched an innovative and interactive digital campaign this week that enlists the public’s help in the fight against child sex trafficking.

    The campaign features videos of well-known celebrities sending the message that “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls”. With this campaign, the DNA Foundation aims to help change the social dynamics that enable the child sex trade today. Child sex trafficking is a difficult topic, one that many people would prefer to look away from, so we commend DNA Foundation for this daring approach that will get people talking – and thinking.

    Microsoft works with advocates, governments, law enforcement, academics and industry stakeholders, including the DNA Foundation, around the world to combat technology-facilitated crimes against children.

  • FBI and DOJ take on the Coreflood botnet

    Posted by Richard Boscovich
    Senior Attorney, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

    Today, the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice announced a legal and technical operation to take down the Coreflood botnet, using a civil suit for a temporary restraining order against the operators of the botnet and criminal seizure warrants in order to disable the botnet’s infrastructure.

    We commend the FBI and DOJ for the action against Coreflood . There is clearly strong public and private momentum in the fight against botnets and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit was happy to provide technical information from the lessons we learned from the recent Rustock and Waledac botnet takedowns to assist these agencies in their operation.

  • Incentive Auctions, Smart Radio Technology and Unlicensed Spectrum – Tools to Meet the Exploding Wireless Broadband Demand

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    There is little dispute about the rapidly growing demand for wireless broadband connectivity and the strain it places on wireless networks. Policymakers can help to find more spectrum to enable the many devices consumers use to connect to the Internet and to each other. To help industry keep pace with consumer demand, policymakers must act quickly to adopt incentive auction policies, drive the deployment of smart radio technology and facilitate more unlicensed spectrum use including use of the “TV white spaces”.

    Consumer demand for wireless broadband connectivity is rapidly growing. In a Staff Technical Working Paper, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported an increase of more than 450 percent in the amount of mobile data consumers used per mobile line between the first quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2010, and projected demand to grow to between 25 and 50 times current levels within five years. At the same time, consumers and network operators increasingly use unlicensed spectrum technologies to access wireless broadband. Mobile data offloaded to Wi-Fi hot spots from the networks of mobile operators is expected to reach almost 90 percent by 2015.

  • New Innovations in IT Support Environmental Sustainability in Africa

    Posted by Frank McCosker
    Managing Director, Microsoft Global Strategic Accounts

    This week, I’m in Nairobi, Kenya for the United Nations Chief Executive Briefing, where Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, launched the UN’s new energy neutral Nairobi office building. The building is the first of its kind for the UN in Africa and is a global showcase of sustainable design and technology.

    We are proud to be part of UNEP’s inspirational goal of supporting forward-thinking and environmentally responsible technology - this goal is shared by the many UN partners and leaders also gathered in Kenya to attend the building’s launch.

  • Achieving Patent Reform: Another Step Forward

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel

    Reform of the U.S. patent system continues to make significant strides, with the introduction of the “America Invents Act of 2011” (HR 1249) by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).

  • Elevate America report offers lessons on employability

    Posted by Andrea L. Taylor
    Director of Community Affairs in North America, Microsoft

    When Gloria Pulido lost her job, she lost her only source of income and ended up living in her car with her teenage son. As Gloria looked for community resources to help get her life back on track, she discovered the Microsoft Elevate America state voucher program.

    Through a partnership between Microsoft and California, she was able to take no-cost Microsoft Office training and a Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam, which she successfully passed. By combining these new skills with her existing experience she turned a part-time job into a full-time position, and, more importantly, a new home.

    Gloria’s story is one of those included in a newly released report that shares the lessons we’ve learned from launching the Microsoft Elevate America voucher program in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Microsoft Supports Kerry-McCain Privacy Bill

    Posted by Frank Torres
    Director, Consumer Affairs, Microsoft

    Microsoft offers its support for new bipartisan legislation introduced today by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that aims to give consumers more control over their personal information. We look forward to working with the sponsors of the bill, the Senate Commerce Committee, and all interested stakeholders as the bill winds its way through the legislative process.

    Here is some of what’s in the bill:

    • Most importantly, the Kerry-McCain bill protects consumer privacy.

  • An Earth Day Perspective: Unlocking Energy Savings with Cloud Computing

    Posted by Rob Bernard
    Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft

    In the 40 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, the annual event has become a time not only for individuals, but also for companies, government agencies and organizations of all sizes to affirm their environmental commitments.

    At Microsoft, our environmental efforts occur 365 days a year. To add our unique contribution to the celebration of Earth Day, we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect and share our thoughts on how trends in information technology can help address the pressing energy and environmental sustainability challenges facing the world.

    One of the things we’re most excited about is the shift to Internet-based computing services (cloud computing), which offer dramatic new ways to save energy and reduce the environmental impacts of IT.

  • Building Global Trust Online

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    Today, I’m happy to share a new Microsoft publication, Building Global Trust Online: Policy Perspectives on Privacy, Safety and Security. It’s intended as a starting point for discussions with policymakers on these important and sometimes difficult issues and also provides good insights into Microsoft’s perspective on key issues. Building Global Trust Online relies on extensive work and ongoing research by Microsoft’s internal teams as well as consultation with external subject-matter experts.

    Within Building Global Trust Online, you’ll find overviews of key issues; a summary of Microsoft’s response to these issues, which includes products, services and global collaborations; and a list of helpful resources and links for further reading and support.

  • Microsoft and Partners Help Latin America Tackle Big Challenges

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues Blog

    This year, Microsoft hosted the Public Sector Leaders Forum (PSLF) in Washington, D.C. for government officials, academic leaders and Microsoft executives from across the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss how information technology re-invigorates economies, transforms educational opportunities and creates new and better paying jobs.

    Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and senior vice president of Legal and Corporate Affairs, delivered the keynote address and touched on how Microsoft supports Latin American and Caribbean countries’ efforts to serve their communities through innovation and technology.

  • Washington Roundtable Launches Benchmarks for a Better Washington

    Posted by Brad Smith
    Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Microsoft

    Our state continues to face significant economic pressures, and even as the recession recedes, Washington’s employers and families still must confront increasingly intense global competition.

    Microsoft has grown up here – Washington state is our home, and we want to see the state continue to be successful. It’s clear that Washington needs a balanced strategy, with measurable goals, to ensure citizens benefit from both solid economic opportunities and a great quality of life.

    To that end, I’ve worked with other members of the Washington Roundtable to develop the Benchmarks for a Better Washington campaign.

  • InterroBang mobilizes children on Global Youth Service Day to better their communities

    Posted by Andrew Ko
    Senior Director of U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft

    Starting tomorrow, we celebrate the 23rd annual Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), which runs from April 15 to April 17. GYSD is the largest service day in the world and the only one solely dedicated to children. More than a million youth in all 50 states and in more than 100 countries will actively make a difference in their community this weekend.

    InterroBang is a Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning socially-networked, service-learning game built in partnership with Nuvana, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Youth Service America and ePals. Since November 2010, more than 20,000 students in over 72 countries have submitted thousands of completed missions (known as deeds) that show how they have helped their local communities while also learning valuable educational lessons about history, the environment, world culture and more.