Microsoft on the Issues

  • Microsoft releases 2013 Law Enforcement Requests Report

    Posted by John Frank
    Deputy General Counsel & Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    On Thursday, we published our most recent Law Enforcement Requests Report, which details the number of legal demands for customer data we received from law enforcement agencies around the world and how Microsoft responded to those requests. This is our third report and covers the period from July to December 2013.

    (Note: As with prior editions, this report focuses on demands from criminal law enforcement agencies and does not include legal demands under U.S. national security laws. However, following legal action against the U.S. government, we’ve recently been able to separately publish data about the number of these requests we receive. Our first and most recent report of this data can be found here.)

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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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  • Continuing our support for government surveillance reform

     Posted by Frederick S. Humphries Jr.
    Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    People from around the world are increasingly coming together to call for increased reform of government surveillance, and Microsoft sees Tuesday’s effort as a broad demonstration of that growing momentum. At Microsoft, we believe further reform is essential for our customers, our company and society at large – not only to help ensure the right balance between privacy and security, but to demonstrate our understanding that without liberty, we do not have security. 

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  • Microsoft hosts conversation addressing myths and realities of unlicensed TV white spaces

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Dec. 17, Microsoft’s Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. assembled panelists from the New America Foundation, Texas Instruments, the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation and Lerman Senter PLLC law firm to offer insight into the current state of affairs in the field of unlicensed spectrum use.

    Panelists participated in a wide ranging conversation, which included topics such as the potential uses of spectrum white spaces, the state of standards work, the policy issues pending before the FCC and the potential economic value of unlicensed use in the TV band. The experts sorted through the myths and promises of TV white spaces in order to discover what it will take to make robust unlicensed TV band use a reality.

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  • Keeping technology safe for our most vulnerable users

    Posted by Anthony Salcito
    Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

    On Wednesday in Barcelona, more than 1,100 educators, school leaders and government officials from nearly 100 countries are gathering to re-imagine and redesign the world of education for the 21st century.

    As the education world’s best and brightest kick off the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum, they are bringing with them a diverse range of teaching innovations and school transformation, all the result of hard work, out-of-the box thinking and a deep commitment to creating a better future for today’s students. But they’re also bringing with them a common concern: How to ensure the technology that is transforming education is also safe and secure.

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  • More work needed to protect European Union from patent trolls

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

    In less than a month, European leaders will come together to finalize the draft rules of procedure for the Unitary Patent Court. On Tuesday, a diverse cross-industry coalition of nearly 20 companies and associations urged the European Union to make further amendments to the rules to support innovation, while deterring patent trolls from entering the EU patent space.

    The rules of procedure are the blueprint for the Unitary Patent Court, which will govern patent disputes for most of the EU. If these rules are sound, companies doing business in Europe will be able to innovate more efficiently.

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  • Leading the way on patent transparency

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

    On Thursday, the Administration issued a call to America’s innovation community to help strengthen the patent system by providing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the information, tools and resources it needs to perform its vital function.

    Microsoft applauds and supports these efforts. The U.S. patent system is the engine for our economy, incentivizing the creation of new technologies that are essential to America’s ability to compete in markets around the world. All stakeholders, including those of us in the private sector, have a key role to play in keeping this system healthy.

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  • Microsoft asks people to “Do 1 Thing” to stay safer online for Safer Internet Day

     Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

    To mark Safer Internet Day (SID) 2014, Microsoft asks people to “Do 1 Thing” to stay safer online and to make that one thing part of their daily digital routines.

    As part of this campaign, on Monday we’re launching a new interactive website Safer Online, where individuals can share their “Do1Thing” promise; learn what others are doing to help protect themselves online, and get instant tips to enhance and better protect their digital lifestyles.

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  • New cybersecurity report details risk of running unsupported software

    Posted by Tim Rains
    Director, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    On Tuesday, Trustworthy Computing released volume 15 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, which provides threat intelligence and analysis of cyber threats in over 100 countries/regions worldwide.

    Among the numerous key findings in the new report, one of the more interesting things to surface was the increased risk of using unsupported software. The report found that in the first half of 2013, nearly 17 percent of computers worldwide that run Microsoft real-time security products encountered malware that tried to get on or stay on those systems, but Microsoft anti-malware products blocked this from happening.

    What’s interesting is the difference between encountering malware and actually being infected by it. During the first half of 2013, currently supported versions of Windows desktop operating systems (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8) all had roughly similar malware encounter rates – between 12 and 20 percent. But Windows XP systems had an infection rate that was six times higher than Windows 8.

    SIRv15 Image 1

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  • Strengthen the patent system by invalidating overly broad patents

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

    On Friday, Microsoft filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of affirmance in the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank case. Our interest in this case is to ensure the Supreme Court understands the difference between true technological innovations and the types of business method patents at issue in this case. Adobe and HP joined Microsoft on the brief.

    Simply put, Alice Corp’s patents have nothing to do with software or computer technology. They relate to a method for reducing “settlement risk” in business transactions. They do not advance the state of technology, nor do they allow com­puters to execute the steps of a business trans­action faster, more efficiently or more reliably than they could before.

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  • Raising the Bar: Exploring the diversity gap within the legal profession

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

    By 2042, the U.S. population is projected to be “majority minority," and no one race or ethnicity will any longer be the majority in America. While America increasingly reflects the extraordinarily diverse people and cultures from around the world, the legal profession does not.

    Unless the legal profession makes faster progress, it will miss the dynamism and creativity that diversity brings to other fields. We risk failure in having a profession that is as diverse as the country we serve – a prerequisite for healthy legal service for a democracy.

    Many lawyers are aware we have not kept pace with the nation. What is troubling is the lack of clarity about why this is happening. And until we know why, we are just guessing at the best ways to help build a more diverse legal profession.

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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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  • Microsoft’s Spectrum Observatory project opens up for increased collaboration

     Posted by Anoop Gupta
    Lead Software Development Engineer, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

    On March 31, we released all of the source code for the Microsoft Spectrum Observatory under an open source software license, a move that will increase opportunity for collaboration with academics, governments and others interested in learning more about how wireless spectrum is used.

    Spectrum, the airwaves over which wireless devices communicate, is in increasing demand throughout the world. As mobile broadband access is expanded further than ever before and unprecedented numbers of smart devices come online, efficiently using the wireless spectrum that is available to us becomes more and more important.

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  • Hiring America’s Heroes: Microsoft testifies on helping veterans transition to civilian careers

    Posted by Bill Kamela
    Policy Counsel, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    On Tuesday, Microsoft will present testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives committee highlighting best practices in hiring and retaining veterans in private sector jobs.

    Sean Kelley, senior staffing director, Cloud and Enterprise Group & Military Recruiting at Microsoft, will join representatives from Walmart, JP Morgan Chase & Co., the International Franchise Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation at the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing entitled “What can the Federal Government Learn from the Private Sector’s Successful Approach to Hiring Veterans?”

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  • Android Patent Infringement: Licensing is the Solution

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    Microsoft files legal actions against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec in the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court over alleged patent infringement.

  • Still Seeking Resolution to Search Competition Issues

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Two years ago, Microsoft applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission when they opened their antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices. We believed then, as we do now, that the future of competition in search is at stake in these investigations. This is important not just for Microsoft, but for the thousands of smaller companies whose businesses depend on a competitive search marketplace. That is why so many companies have made their concerns about Google’s misconduct known to regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The European Commission has stated publicly that Google must address four areas of concern regarding its business practices, or else it will face enforcement action. We understand that the European Commission and Google are working toward a binding, enforceable legal order that would address these competition law concerns.

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  • Standing together for greater transparency

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

    To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart.  But today our two companies stand together.  We both remain concerned with the Government’s continued unwillingness to permit us to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. 

    Each of our companies filed suit in June to address this issue.  We believe we have a clear right under the U.S. Constitution to share more information with the public.  The purpose of our litigation is to uphold this right so that we can disclose additional data. 

    On six occasions in recent weeks we agreed with the Department of Justice to extend the Government’s deadline to reply to these lawsuits.  We hoped that these discussions would lead to an agreement acceptable to all.  While we appreciate the good faith and earnest efforts by the capable Government lawyers with whom we negotiated, we are disappointed that these negotiations ended in failure.

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  • Microsoft voices support for passage of the Innovation Act

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

    Thursday's overwhelming bipartisan House vote to pass the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309) marks a significant milestone toward enactment of common-sense reforms to curb abusive patent litigation. Abusive patent lawsuits create a heavy burden on the U.S. economy — slowing innovation, undermining competitiveness and stunting economic growth.

    H.R. 3309 addresses this urgent problem by striking a balance that deters bad actors while protecting intellectual property rights.

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  • Microsoft partners with USAID to help end extreme poverty by 2030

     Posted by Anthony Salcito
    Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

    On Thursday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will announce that Microsoft is one of 30 inaugural Cornerstone Partners chosen to advance a science and technology-based approach to economic development.

    The Global Development Lab’s mission is to help end the extreme poverty that affects 1.2 billion people on the planet living on just $1.25 a day by 2030. The lab will support breakthrough solutions in water, health, food security, nutrition, energy, education and climate change, reaching 200 million people in the next five years.

    As Bill Gates challenged world leaders in his “creative capitalism” mandate at the 2008 World Economic Forum, Microsoft has both a moral responsibility and a business imperative to take a leadership role eradicating poverty.

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  • Microsoft Translator expanded, Language Toolbox launched in celebration of Mother Language Day

     Posted by Carla Hurd
    Microsoft Local Language Program

    On Friday, Microsoft announced the expansion of Microsoft Translator with the addition of Welsh and the launch of Language Toolbox, both in celebration of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day.

    Language Toolbox is a collection of free tools and resources related to Microsoft language technologies. Also on Friday, Microsoft recognized the important role American Sign Language (ASL) plays in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

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  • UN-HABITAT partners with Microsoft CityNext to address the challenge of 60 million new residents moving to cities each year

     Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT.

    Cities around the world are growing at a rapid pace with no sign of slowing down. More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, which is estimated to increase to 70 percent of the global population, or more than 6 billion by 2050. The speed of urban migration to cities poses immense challenges for city governments worldwide as many must deal with aging infrastructure and the need to find additional resources to provide health and social services to expanding populations.

    To address these urban challenges, we’re hosting the 7th World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellin, Colombia this week, where I’m pleased to announce UN-HABITAT’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft CityNext, which leverages the expertise of both organizations to empower governments, businesses and citizens to drive change across their cities to meet the needs of the growing populations. Technology – from social media to cloud services to big data – is rapidly changing how cities function, develop and prosper.

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  • Making important progress on computer science education

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

    This week, we have seen tremendous enthusiasm and excitement from more than 13 million students who are learning a new language. The language? Computer Science.

    Across the country and around the world, students have been celebrating Computer Science Education Week by participating in Hour of Code events. In partnership with Code.org, Microsoft has been hosting Hour of Code programs at our retail stores and with our YouthSpark partners, witnessing the delight of students who are experiencing coding for the first time. This week, I had the opportunity to see this excitement firsthand when I met with students and teachers at Fairwood Elementary School in Renton, Wash. to present $10,000 in Code.org funding for tablets that will help students strengthen their computer science skills.

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  • Idaho the latest state to make computer science courses count toward high school graduation requirements

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

    Continuing the momentum we’ve seen across the country on computer science education, Idaho recently joined a growing number of states that allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements. We applaud Idaho for taking this important step, which will help prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow while supporting American innovation. Under the leadership of Gov. Butch Otter, the Idaho State Board of Education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Senate Education Chairman John Goedde and House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, Idaho has taken a critical step in closing the skills gap and strengthening the STEM pipeline.

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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, The Atlantic & National Journal Present “A New America: How Millennials are Sparking Change” town hall

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Dec. 6, Microsoft, in partnership with The Atlantic and National Journal, hosted the first in a series of traveling town halls to explore the opportunities, inclinations and impact of the millennial generation as it faces an increasingly connected world and competitive workplace.

    “A New America: How Millennials Are Sparking Change” combines the knowledge of seasoned leaders with the ambitions of young iconoclasts who are changing the world from the outside in. This first conversation took place at California State University in Los Angeles, featuring leading thought-leaders, educators, government officials, entrepreneurs and students.

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