Posted by John FrankVice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft
This afternoon we are publishing additional information about the volume of law enforcement and national security orders served on Microsoft. For the first time, we are permitted to include the total volume of national security orders, which may include FISA orders, in this reporting. We are still not permitted to confirm whether we have received any FISA orders, but if we were to have received any they would now be included in our aggregate volumes.
Earlier this week, along with others in the industry, we called for greater transparency about the volume and scope of the national security orders, including FISA orders, which require the disclosure of some customer content. We believe this would help the community understand and debate these important issues. Since then, we have worked with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to try and secure permission to do this.
This afternoon, the FBI and DOJ have given us permission to publish some additional data, and we are publishing it straight away. However, we continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral 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:
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.
Posted by Anthony SalcitoVice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft
A new study sponsored by Microsoft Partners in Learning and the Pearson Foundation provides clear evidence linking 21st century skills and student engagement in school with higher quality of work later in life.
Posted by TJ CampanaDirector of Security, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit
Protecting people is at the forefront of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit’s fight against cybercrime.
Posted by Horacio GutierrezDeputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Recording ownership in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s assignment database is at present voluntary, with the result that records of patent ownership are often inaccurate and incomplete.
Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Dr. Agnes Soucat, Director for Human Development, African Development Bank.
It’s an exciting time in Africa. The continent is emerging as an investment opportunity for the private sector. The IT revolution especially in mobile technology has transformed Africa.
Posted by Jeff MeisnerEditor, Microsoft on the Issues
This week, Microsoft Research hosted DC TechFair, providing the Washington, DC community with an inside look at the future trends and technology areas that are changing the face of computing.
Yesterday, Washington took an important step in helping create new opportunities for our state’s children and our economy.
Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft and several students look on as Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signs SHB1472 into law at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.
On Tuesday, Microsoft and Politico hosted an interactive conversation addressing how innovative technologies are changing the policy and practice of health care. The discussion addressed the role technology can play in improving and changing health care, focusing on topics such as mobile medical apps and doctor-patient communication.
Posted by Brendon LynchChief 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.
Posted by Paul GarnettDirector, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft
Today at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, Microsoft announced a new pilot project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Posted by Anne GavinDirector of State Government Affairs, Microsoft
Last Thursday, Virginia gubernatorial candidates Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe participated in a Technology Town Hall Forum we hosted with the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) at our offices in Reston, Virginia.
Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft, kicked-off the event, which was followed by opening remarks from Bobbie Kilberg, President and CEO of NVTC, who then served as moderator.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Bindu Lohani, Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in how we think about solutions for global societal challenges. Take the apps revolution for a start. Apps are driving change at an incredibly fast pace - connecting millions more people to data and services.
At Microsoft, we have long worked in partnership with others in government, industry, academia and civil society to advance emerging technologies and create new opportunities for ICT access and innovation throughout the world. Today at the Global Summit on Dynamic Spectrum Access and TV White Spaces in Singapore, we announced our participation in the newly-formed Dynamic Spectrum Alliance. This will be a new global, cross-industry group focused on policy and regulatory advocacy with the aim of expanding dynamic and opportunistic access to unused radio spectrum – the frequencies we rely upon for wireless connectivity and bandwidth.
The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is made up of 23 companies and organizations from across the world, each bringing different perspectives to the table. Though we may not agree on all topics, we have worked to find common ground and will use that shared purpose to accelerate the momentum this technology is already gaining globally. A core focus area for the group will be enabling unlicensed (Wi-Fi-like) access to the unused TV band frequencies, which are particularly well-suited for long-range connections at low power.
Last week, we launched a consumer privacy awareness campaign to educate people about the tools and technologies Microsoft provides to help protect their personal information online.
Today, the White House Task Force on High-Tech Patent Issues issued a paper containing seven legislative recommendations for patent reform designed to curb litigation abuses by patent assertion entities (PAEs).
As a defendant in roughly 70 patent lawsuits, most of which were filed by patent assertion entities, Microsoft supports efforts to curb patent litigation abuses. But we are concerned and surprised that in a critical respect today’s proposal goes beyond patent assertion entities and instead targets software innovations more broadly.
Posted by Horacio GutierrezCorporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Today, we’re pleased to announce that ZTE, one of the world’s largest smartphone companies, has joined a long list of companies that have signed patent license agreements with Microsoft. Under the agreement, Microsoft grants ZTE a license to Microsoft’s worldwide patent portfolio for ZTE phones, tablets, computers and other devices running Android and Chrome OS. This follows our announcement last week of a similar agreement with Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai.
The ZTE and Foxconn agreements show once more that technology companies around the world, including some of the world’s largest and fastest growing manufacturers anchored in China, recognize licensing is an effective way to share technology and build on each other’s work, accelerating the pace of innovation and delighting customers.
Posted by Fred HumphriesVice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft
Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued its “Special 301” report. This annual review of the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement around the world identifies both the progress and continuing challenges that exist with respect to IPR enforcement. In an unusual step, the Administration today designated Ukraine as a “priority foreign country” (PFC) which begins an investigation leading to possible sanctions consistent with trade statutes. Software piracy was identified as one of three issues that led to the designation.
PFC designation is a serious tool in IPR enforcement.
IPR protection is one of the key drivers of sustained economic growth and innovation, and Ukraine has enormous potential in this area. In July last year, Team quadSquad from Ukraine won the Imagine Cup, a world-wide competition sponsored by Microsoft for its winning project, Enable Talk, a software solution that transforms sign language into a form of verbal communication through sensor-equipped gloves and a mobile device. Without question, Ukraine has some of the best and brightest engineers and software developers who would benefit from a robust IPR regime.
Today, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by the bipartisan group of senators known as the ‘Gang of 8.’ He will be joined on the panel by several industry and policy experts to discuss the importance of high-skilled immigration reform in order to strengthen the economy and foster innovation in the United States.
Last week, we announced our support of this historic bipartisan immigration bill and have regularly spoken in favor of high-skilled immigration reform and investments in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) education.
It’s easy for us to overlook the role intellectual property can play in improving lives when it contributes to the arts and technology. Patents not only protect new ideas, but also provide an avenue for technology advancements to reach the broader industry, where they are often built upon and grow into even more advanced solutions. Every year on April 26, the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) invites inventors large and small to take some time to remind ourselves what thinkers and doers can do when they put their minds to it.
Today, Microsoft marks World IP Day by sharing a closer look at two of our inventors who push the envelope with creative inventions. Asta Roseway from Microsoft Research, known for her work on the “Printing Dress”, shares the background of her first patent for a cinematic gaming invention “Spectator Experience,” and Ali Khan from Server and Tools describes the work behind his patent to improve wireless data transmission.
Posted by Jane BroomDirector of Community Affairs, Microsoft
In a global economy that’s increasingly driven by technological innovation, computer science skills have become as fundamental as the traditional “three R’s.” But unfortunately, our nation’s schools haven’t been able to keep up with the incredible pace of change. In fact, four decades after computing visionaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were teenagers, we still live in a country where you have to be one of the fortunate few to be exposed to this field at an early age.
The state of Washington is typical. Of the 770 public and private high schools in the Evergreen State, only 35 offer the Advanced Placement course in computer science. The scarcity of these courses has an even greater impact on students of color. Of the 542 Washington students who took the AP computer science exam last year, less than 25 were Hispanic, African-American or Native-American.
A state like Washington, whose economic health depends on the technology sector, should be a national leader in computer science education. Instead, given the needs of our economy, our current situation is a serious problem. But promising steps are being taken – both in Olympia and across the state – to help increase the availability of this foundational skill for all high school students.
One step in the right direction would be to make computer science count toward a high school graduation requirement in math or science. Only nine states do that today, and Washington isn’t one of them. When it comes to graduation requirements in our state, computer science is considered an elective on par with woodworking – hardly the way a skill that has become foundational in our culture should be addressed in our schools.
Posted by Irene PlenefischGovernment 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.
Posted by Jacqueline BeauchereChief 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.”
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.
Posted by Lori HarnickGeneral 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.