Microsoft on the Issues

  • Remembering the Third of July

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

    Amid the current public debates about government surveillance, this is a good day to step back and remember the Third of July.

    Of course, the first question you might ask is, what happened on the Third of July?

    Many Americans will recall, of course, that it was in Philadelphia at Independence Hall on July 2, 1776, that the colonies voted for their independence. And then it was two days later on July 4 that our Founders signed the Declaration of Independence.

    But on the day in between, on July 3, 1776, something interesting happened as well.

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  • Advancing our encryption and transparency efforts

     Posted by Matt Thomlinson
    Vice President, Trustworthy Computing Security, Microsoft

    In December, we announced our commitment to further increase the security of our customers’ data. We also announced our plans to reinforce legal protections for our customers’ data, and continue to increase transparency in how we engage with governments around the world. We are making positive progress on all of these fronts. 

    We are in the midst of a comprehensive engineering effort to strengthen encryption across our networks and services. Our goal is to provide even greater protection for data across all the great Microsoft services you use and depend on every day. This effort also helps us reinforce that governments use appropriate legal processes, not technical brute force, if they want access to that data. 

    As part of that, today we’re announcing three important milestones that honor our commitments to security and increased transparency.

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  • The privacy week that was

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

    Over time, privacy protection has advanced in key moments. These have involved judges and advocates who appreciated new technologies and found ways to ensure privacy prevailed in a changing world. This week’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Riley v. California ranks with other key historical moments.More than in any other recent decision, the Supreme Court this week advanced privacy in a digital era characterized by ubiquitous computing.

    As a result, the scales of justice shifted in a profound way toward a new ideal of privacy in a digital world. There is an important history for privacy that points in this direction and is worth appreciating.  But it’s important to start simply by saying this: it was not just a historic week, but a very good week for privacy. A scale implies balance. The Supreme Court’s decision strikes the right balance between public safety and the privacy concerns of users of mobile technology.

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  • Microsoft CTO for US Education Cameron Evans: A call for better tech integration in classrooms

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. Education, has an opinion piece posted on eSchool News. In the piece, he questions the impact technology has had in education, and provides ideas for how teachers can incorporate technology into their curriculum in unique ways that meet academic requirements and provide students with learning experiences and the creative freedom to express what they have mastered through compelling experiences.

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  • Singapore leads the way on TV white spaces regulation

     Posted by Jessica Tan
    Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore

    On Monday, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced a regulatory framework for unlicensed access to unused radio spectrum in the broadcast TV frequency bands, known as TV white spaces (TVWS).

    Radio spectrum is, more than ever, being identified by policy makers as a key asset in developing the digital economy and, more broadly, the overall economy. The remarkable growth in the use of smartphones and other wireless devices in recent years has exponentially increased demands on radio spectrum. Mobile traffic is predicted to increase 11-fold over the next five years globally, with wireless devices contributing the majority. Policymakers in many countries are actively looking to both maximise spectrum resources and increase the efficiencies made in their use.

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  • White House highlights value of partnership in cybersecurity regulation

    Editor’s Note: The following post is from J. Paul Nicholas, Senior Director, Global Security Strategy and Diplomacy at Microsoft and Cristin Goodwin, Senior Attorney, Regulatory Affairs at Microsoft.


    The 2013 Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (EO) set forth the U.S. Government’s two-phase approach to strengthening critical infrastructure cybersecurity.In the first phase, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) led collaborative development of a Cybersecurity Framework; in the second phase, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a voluntary program and continues work towards incentives for organizations to utilize the Framework, while government agencies examined their cybersecurity authorities and regulations relative to the Framework.

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  • Enhancing learning while protecting safety and privacy

     Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    Over the past year, revelations of government surveillance, highly publicized data breaches and other stories of private information being leaked have dominated the media.More revealing than the stories themselves is the public’s impassioned response to them, demonstrating that there is still a basic expectation among Americans of personal privacy.

    As public discourse continues, some states, districts, schools and parents have begun to consider the safety of student data. In addition, with the use of technology for learning, companies like Microsoft continue to work to effectively meet both education objectives and privacy and safety expectations.

    Given Microsoft’s commitment to these issues, I was proud to serve on The Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet, which is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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  • Why the CLS Bank case matters

     Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank, reaffirming that abstract ideas are not eligible for patent protection. The Court correctly distinguished Alice’s invalid business method patents from valid patents that advance technology.

    We applaud the Court for its ruling, and in particular their recognition that the patents in question are not software patents. The Alice claims describe a method for reducing risk in financial transactions, with no connection to any technological innovation.

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  • Microsoft to introduce features to protect Windows Phone users

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

    Over recent months, Microsoft has been working with others in the wireless industry to develop voluntary principles for implementing more robust theft-deterrent technologies in smartphones.

    As a result of this work, Microsoft signed on to CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment in April, and today we are able to confirm that we will meet these commitments before the CTIA goal of July 2015.

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  • New Zealanders’ online safety concerns reflected in proposed legislation

    Posted by Delight Roberts
    Senior Online Safety Strategist, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    Online safety issues and concerns are universal yet have geographical relevance. I recently spent seven weeks on temporary assignment to Netsafe, New Zealand’s premier Internet safety organization. What I heard time and again from colleagues, parents, regulators and the general New Zealand public was that online bullying and the effects of harmful online content are concerns this island nation shares with many others (parents, consumers) across the globe.

    Kids, parents and regulators in New Zealand have seen the effects of harmful online content and, the public has encouraged lawmakers to take action. One striking characteristic of the New Zealand Parliament is its ability to move and quickly pass new legislation. Regulators can, if they wish, introduce a bill in the morning and enact it into law that same day. The Harmful Digital Communications Bill (HDCB), which stemmed from concerns about online bullying, seeks to provide a remedy for removal of content from both an individual and an online content host.

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  • Making the Microsoft Services Agreement even easier for people to understand

    Posted by Ryan Gavin
    General Manager of Search, Cloud and Content, Microsoft

    As I’ve written about in the past, one of the things we are very focused on at Microsoft is making sure people have a great experience across all of our apps and services. Whether it’s providing one easy place to store all of your favorite stuff online or making it as easy as possible for you to stay in touch with family and friends, we want to deliver a complete experience that focuses on the things people value most.

    Part of that is also making sure our service agreements are as easy as possible for everyone to understand. In that vein, I am sharing a few updates coming to the Microsoft Services Agreement (MSA) well in advance of when they take effect, so that the people who use some of our most popular services, including OneDrive, Outlook.com, Bing and MSN.com, know what to anticipate and understand what the updates mean.

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  • Unfinished business on government surveillance reform

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

    In the year since news reports surfaced about U.S. government surveillance practices, a lot has changed. And there even have been some initial positive reforms. We all want to live in a safe and secure world and governments - including the U.S. government – play a vital role in helping to protect our communities. But the reality is clear. The U.S. Government needs to address important unfinished business to reduce the technology trust deficit it has created.

    It was a year ago this week that the Guardian and Washington Post published their first reports about the extent of U.S. government surveillance of phone and Internet records, sometimes in partnership with others. As the story evolved, we learned that the government was not just seeking a relatively small amount of content from Internet companies via legal orders. It’s now apparent that the government intercepted data in transit across the Internet and hacked links between company data centers. These disclosures rightly have prompted a vigorous debate over the extent and scope of government surveillance, leading to some positive changes. But much more needs to be done.

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  • Envisioning cyberspace in 2025

    Posted by J. Paul Nicholas
    Senior Director, Global Security Strategy & Diplomacy, Microsoft

    On Monday, Microsoft released a new report entitled “Cyberspace 2025: Today’s Decisions, Tomorrow’s Terrain” that looks beyond today’s technological trends to anticipate future catalysts for change in cyberspace. Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, big data and cybersecurity loom large on today’s—and tomorrow’s—agenda. In the report is a Cyber 2025 Model, developed to determine potential cyber trends, as well as revealing several interesting projections about the future of cyberspace. 

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  • Microsoft panel explores the policy implications of intelligent systems

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On May 16, Microsoft convened a panel of academic researchers working at the confluence of the technology, humanity and policy aspects of intelligent systems at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The intergenerational conversation brought together professors and their students to explore the implications of the deployment of new intelligent systems in businesses and society and the legal and policy challenges that they present.

    From autonomous vehicles to rescue robots to home appliances, intelligent systems are becoming more commonplace in our society. These systems gather data from their environment and increasingly, without human interaction, automatically act on that information, enabling benefits such as faster responses in crisis situations, more efficient resource management and safer performance of difficult tasks.

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  • New success in protecting customer rights unsealed today

     Successful challenge of National Security Letter protects longstanding policy of notifying enterprise customers if a government requests their data

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

    On Thursday, a federal court in Seattle unsealed documents related to an FBI National Security Letter that Microsoft successfully challenged in court late last year. This marks an important and successful step to protect Microsoft's enterprise customers regarding government surveillance. 

    Because information about the case wasn’t public until today, this is our first opportunity to discuss it in detail. Given the strong ongoing worldwide interest in these issues, we wanted to provide some additional context on the matter.

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  • Join Microsoft for May 21 town hall event ‘A New America: How Millennials Are Sparking Change’

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

    On May 21, Microsoft, National Journal and The Atlantic will host the final town hall in our series, “A New America: How Millennials Are Sparking Change,” at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. We are excited to conclude our conversation on the opportunities and challenges facing this diverse generation with insights from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, Rep. Aaron Schock, R–Ill., as well as Millennials, academics, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

    Throughout the year-long series, we’ve traveled and engaged with college campuses in three truly unique and innovative cities – Los AngelesAustin and Richmond. During each event, we’ve witnessed extraordinary entrepreneurship and service on display, in many ways teaching us that Millennials are carving their own way.

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  • Microsoft convenes panel on how the Internet of Things can build sustainable 21st century cities

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On May 14, leading public and private sector experts on data and sustainability gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. to address how cities can leverage technology to offer new services to their citizens, optimize the efficiency of existing services and improve the overall sustainability of their communities.

    Cities are the hearts and souls of our nations, driving our global economy and impacting our environment. With the world’s urban population growing by 1 million people per week, cities are under significant pressure to meet growing demand, modernize aging infrastructure and sustain the health and safety of their citizens under dwindling financial resources.

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  • One step closer to TV white spaces access and preserving the open Internet

     Posted by Paul Mitchell
    General Manager, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

    On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission established a portion of the regulatory framework necessary to foster the development of a commercial domestic market for unlicensed devices operating in the TV white spaces as part of its Report and Order that makes television broadcast frequencies in the 600 MHz spectrum band available for wireless broadband use.

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  • ‘Who Has Your Back?’ – Electronic Frontier Foundation gives Microsoft 6/6 Stars on privacy approach to government data access

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Thursday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its fourth annual report rating technology companies on their efforts to protect customer data from the government. “Who Has Your Back?” reflects the EFF’s thorough review of the practices and policies of each company against specific criteria.

    This year, Microsoft met every one of six factors that companies were rated against, including the stringency of the legal demands companies require before providing data, their efforts to notify customers about government demands, transparency in reporting the volume and type of demands received and company efforts to fight for customers’ privacy rights in court and in Congress.

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  • Building trust in personal data ecosystems

     Posted by Paul Mitchell
    General Manager, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

    Editor’s Note: The World Economic Forum released three reports today as part of its Rethinking Personal Data initiative. Microsoft is on the Steering Board of this multi-year effort to explore frameworks for the use of personal data in order to improve transparency, accountability and empowerment for people worldwide.

    A glance at the big data stories that now appear daily reveals a mix of optimism and pessimism about how this technology may affect every aspect of our lives. Ambivalence toward new technology is common. One finding from our recent research on user behavior and attitudes regarding the use of personal data is that while technology enables people to do more, it also creates a dependency on something which they do not fully understand, making them feel powerless. The potential of big data, and the hyper connectedness and element of unpredictability of a data-driven world, exacerbates this.

    This perceived asymmetry of power is very real, driven by the information differential that exists between institutions and individuals. Together with recent revelations about government use of data and frequent, extensive data breaches at large retail chains, these elements have combined to deepen the existing concerns about trust.

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  • Using wireless technology innovation to enable cloud-connected experiences in Ghana and beyond

     Posted by Paul Garnett
    Director, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

    I’m in Accra, Ghana, attending the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Global Summit, where we are announcing new TV white spaces pilots on four continents, including our newest project in Koforidua, Ghana.

    TV white spaces, the unused frequencies in the wireless spectrum band dedicated to television, are widely seen as the first opportunity to enable wireless devices to opportunistically tap into unused spectrum. Better use of the spectrum could translate to cheaper, more ubiquitous and higher-bandwidth wireless broadband connectivity. The project in Ghana is the latest in a series of TV white spaces deployments in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Currently, Microsoft is involved in pilot projects in 10 countries spanning four continents.

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  • New whitepaper details how Latin America can benefit from the cloud while protecting data

    Posted by Suzanne Choney
    Microsoft News Center Staff

    A new whitepaper, “Facilitando the Cloud: Data Protection Regulation as a Driver of National Competitiveness for Latin America,” was made available by Microsoft Wednesday as part of the Government Leaders Forum - Latin America and the Caribbean.

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  • Silicon Valley Gives crowdfunds to support hundreds of nonprofits

    Posted by Dan'l Lewin
    Corporate Vice President, Technology & Civic Engagement, Microsoft

    One of my passions is looking at ways technology can help solve real problems and create new opportunities for people.

    I oversee Microsoft’s Silicon Valley operations. Our 2,800 employees in the area have helped to define our strong presence in the community since the early 1980s.

    When we think of Silicon Valley, our heads fill with visions of a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors and tech companies that are doing well. However, we often overlook many issues that every community faces when it comes to providing better services for our citizens—improving education initiatives, creating new employment opportunities for youth and skills training for underserved people. Meeting the needs of people in our region is an immense challenge, but I feel we can work together to find solutions.

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  • Microsoft files comments for White House big data review, responds to recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Chen
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Friday the White House released the findings of a comprehensive 90-day review of big data that makes recommendations on how the government and the private sector can balance privacy concerns with the need to spur innovation and maximize the opportunities of big data. Microsoft provided input to the study and supports the recommendations in included this report. Big data holds tremendous promise for society and it’s important that government policy promotes its effective use.

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  • How today’s creativity will inform our entertainment of the future

    Editor's Note:The following post by Rob Knies originally appeared on the Inside Microsoft Research blog .

    creativity conferenceMary Czerwinski and Kati London of Microsoft Research will be participating in the Creativity Conference, a Washington, D.C., event that will examine how creators and makers are shaping our future.

    What does the “creative process” really mean? Where do creative ideas come from? What is the relationship between creativity and technology?

    Answering these questions, and a host of similar ones, will provide the focus for the second annual Creativity Conference, being held May 2 at The Newseum, in Washington, D.C. The event is designed to underscore the importance of innovation and creativity and will feature a collection of experts from the entertainment, technology, and political realms who will examine the themes of creativity, technology, and the economy. The conference will be streamed live from 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. EDT.

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