July, 2013

  • Public-private partnerships essential to fighting cybercriminals

    Posted by Richard Domingues Boscovich
    Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit

    Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being able to serve as a panelist at an @Microsoft Breakfast Conversation held at Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., an event which focused on how public-private partnerships can be a useful tool in fighting cybercrime, and more specifically, battling botnets. The panel featured keynote remarks from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who contextualized the scope and impact that botnets have had in recent years and opened a discussion exploring how the public and private sectors can work together to disrupt and undermine the cybercriminal ecosystem.

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  • Seattle mayoral candidates visit Microsoft to talk tech, transportation

    Posted by Irene Plenefisch
    Government Affairs Manager, Microsoft

    Eight candidates in the Seattle mayoral race met in Redmond yesterday at a forum sponsored by the Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC). The forum was moderated by KIRO Television’s evening news co-anchor Angela Russell and attended by a packed room of Microsoft employees.

    From left: KIRO television’s Angela Russell and candidates Joey Grey, Bruce Harrell, Kate Martin, Mike McGinn and Douglas McQuaid.

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  • ‘Best policy’ to thwart online bullying? EC paper says raise awareness

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

    Parents, educators, policymakers and young people worry that online bullying may increase in their communities. In speaking with these groups, however, concerns seem to stem mostly from fear that something might happen. This is due largely to a lack of awareness about many of the truths surrounding this critical issue. Thankfully, online bullying (also referred to as cyberbullying) is an actual concern for far fewer individuals, families and communities. Still, it is these highly publicized and often tragic cases that help to perpetuate growing fears.

    According to a new report from the European Commission (EC), awareness-raising, coupled with involvement from all interested groups, is the “best policy” to help combat online bullying: “The educational effort goes beyond families and educators. The effort needs to involve all relevant actors, providing them with skills and means to act, as well as psychological and expert support when needed.”

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  • Responding to government legal demands for customer data

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    Today we have asked the Attorney General of the United States to personally take action to permit Microsoft and other companies to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information. We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us. For example, Government lawyers have yet to respond to the petition we filed in court on June 19, seeking permission to publish the volume of national security requests we have received. We hope the Attorney General can step in to change this situation.

    Until that happens, we want to share as much information as we currently can. There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week. We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers. In the meantime, we have summarized below the information that we are in a position to share, in response to the allegations in the reporting:

    • Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail): We do not provide any government with direct access to emails or instant messages. Full stop. Like all providers of communications services, we are sometimes obligated to comply with lawful demands from governments to turn over content for specific accounts, pursuant to a search warrant or court order. This is true in the United States and other countries where we store data. When we receive such a demand, we review it and, if obligated to we comply. We do not provide any government with the technical capability to access user content directly or by itself. Instead, governments must continue to rely on legal process to seek from us specified information about identified accounts.

    Not surprisingly, we remain subject to these types of legal obligations when we update our products and even when we strengthen encryption and security measures to better protect content as it travels across the web. Recent leaked government documents have focused on the addition of HTTPS encryption to Outlook.com instant messaging, which is designed to make this content more secure as it travels across the internet. To be clear, we do not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption, nor do we provide the government with the encryption keys. When we are legally obligated to comply with demands, we pull the specified content from our servers where it sits in an unencrypted state, and then we provide it to the government agency.

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  • Microsoft applauds release of Best Practice Guidelines for Ad Networks to Address Piracy and Counterfeiting

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

    Today, we released Best Practice Guidelines for Ad Networks to Address Piracy and Counterfeiting. The Best Practices represent an important step in addressing the problem of display advertisements that appear on websites dedicated to copyright piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods. Microsoft – along with other leading technology companies – participated in the multi-year effort with the White House to develop these best practices, which will be implemented in the coming months.

    As both a creator of copyrighted works and a provider of online services, including advertising services, Microsoft understands the problems faced by copyright owners subject to massive infringement and the need to ensure that innovation can flourish online. It’s been our experience that a notice-and-takedown mechanism like the one envisioned by these Best Practices can be an effective means to address online infringement.

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  • Celebrating Malala Day and the courage of youth to support literacy for all

    Posted by Lori Harnick
    General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft

    Regardless of how you look at it, the literacy challenge we face today might be one of the largest yet most silent. The statistics tell the story – currently, one out of every four adults worldwide – or 793 million – is functionality illiterate. Compounding the challenge, we face a worldwide shortage of 1.7 million primary teachers, and a dangerous scarcity of the appropriate skills, resources and support materials needed to address it. Even in developed countries, illiteracy is a problem. For example, 1 in 3 children in the United Kingdom do not own a book, and in some underserved areas of the United States, the ratio of children to books is 19 children to one book, whereas children in more advantaged areas each have an average of 13 books.

    The literacy challenge for girls is especially acute. An estimated 75 million girls are absent from school classrooms daily, causing a myriad of learning shortfalls. Five hundred million school-aged girls will never complete their education. Child marriage and child labor further exacerbates the problem. Despite this, we see youth around the world rising to the challenge and fighting for their right to be literate and to have access to education.

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  • Continuing our commitment to privacy and consumer choice with Do Not Track

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    As part of our ongoing commitment to privacy, Microsoft has included improvements to our support of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Do Not Track (DNT) effort in the Windows 8.1 Preview released at Microsoft’s Build conference last week.
    Specifically, the new version of Internet Explorer (included with the Windows 8.1 Preview) is the first major browser to implement User-Granted Exceptions from the W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group’s specification effort. The Do Not Track exceptions capability in Internet Explorer, which we refer to as the “permissions API” (application programming interface), enables websites to ask for an exception to a consumer’s DNT setting and provides a mechanism for that permission to be stored and communicated to the website in the future. Enabling consumers to grant permission to a particular website or service for collection and use of their information, even when DNT is on for other sites, reflects feedback that we heard clearly during discussions. You can try out the new functionality, when using the Windows 8.1 Preview, here.

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