Microsoft on the Issues

  • Patent litigation reform needed now

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

    Microsoft joined nearly 400 companies and associations in calling upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve urgently needed patent litigation reform legislation. The Committee is working to forge a well-calibrated compromise aimed at curbing abusive litigation practices and strengthening our patent system. In any compromise there are always areas where one or more of the interested parties wish the outcome would go further, while others feel it might go too far. We certainly feel that way in some respects, but we also recognize that meaningful compromise on important measures, including fee-shifting, a path to discovery reform, and increased transparency, will provide new tools to fight frivolous lawsuits, while still protecting the patent rights of America’s innovators. We strongly believe it is important for this set of reforms to be enacted now.

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  • One step on the path to challenging search warrant jurisdiction

    Posted by David Howard
    Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    The U.S. government doesn’t have the power to search a home in another country, nor should it have the power to search the content of email stored overseas.

    To protect this principle, we filed a formal legal challenge months ago to a U.S. search warrant seeking customer email content that is located exclusively outside the United States. Today we received an initial decision that maintains the status quo but is a necessary step in our effort to make sure that governments follow the letter of the law when they seek our customers’ private data in the future.

    When we filed this challenge we knew the path would need to start with a magistrate judge, and that we’d eventually have the opportunity to bring the issue to a U.S. district court judge and probably to a federal court of appeals. Today the Magistrate Judge, who originally issued the warrant in question, disagreed with our view and rejected our challenge. This is the first step toward getting this issue in front of courts that have the authority to correct the government’s longstanding views on the application of search warrants to content stored digitally outside the United States. 

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  • NETmundial – Multi-stakeholder Internet governance moves forward

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

    Today, NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, wrapped up in São Paulo, Brazil. NETmundial proved to be an excellent forum for gathering insights from stakeholders in an inclusive, global and transparent way. NETmundial added momentum to efforts to strengthen the Internet governance ecosystem as a whole, although there is more work to be done. This is particularly important as we begin the process towards the transition of the U.S. NTIA’s historic stewardship role over Key Internet Domain Name Functions to the global multi-stakeholder community and as new challenges arise due to the growth of the cloud, big data, the Internet of Things and other technologies. 

    Equally important, NETmundial was accompanied by Brazil’s passage of its own Internet Framework Law (Marco Civil da Internet). The meeting opened with a flourish as Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff signed this bill into law in front of the 800 delegates gathered from at least 91 countries. From Microsoft, I attended with Mehmet Akcin from our global network services team.  

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  • Celebrating World IP Day

    Posted by Jule Sigall
    Assistant General Counsel, IP Policy & Strategy

    Jule SigallThis weekend, on April 26, Microsoft observes the 14th annual World IP Day. On this day, we take the opportunity to reflect on the significant benefits the IP system provides our economy.

    This year we join the other member companies of the Partnership for American Innovation (PAI) to highlight just a few of the innovations made possible by the U.S. patent system. Check it out here. These products are supported by the investment of PAI members, totaling more than $40 billion a year in research and development and supporting 1.2 million jobs.

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  • Rebalancing the data asymmetry

    Posted by Paul Mitchell
    General Manager, Technology Policy Group

    A combination of ubiquitous data, analytics and machine learning is ushering in a transition from the information economy to a knowledge economy – where growth is driven primarily by the production of new ideas, insights, and knowledge. However, data-driven economies are reliant on a dependable supply of data to be sustainable. The current imbalance between the amount of data about individuals held by or accessible to institutions, and the inability of those same individuals to control the use of that data has created an asymmetry of power, resulting in a crisis of trust that was further exacerbated by last year’s revelations about government use of data and other events such as the recent data breaches from large retail outlets. All of this impacts the flow of such data. In the new World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2014, a chapter on Rebalancing Socioeconomic Asymmetry in a Data-Driven Economy, co-authored by Microsoft, discusses some of the challenges that will need to be addressed to enable a thriving knowledge economy.

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  • Microsoft formalizes policy on responsible materials sourcing

    Posted by Brian Tobey
    Corporate Vice President, Manufcturing, Supply Chain & Information Services, Microsoft

    As the company moves forward as One Microsoft, we must do an extraordinary job of overcoming complex social and environmental challenges throughout our packaging and hardware supply chain. Recently, we formalized our values and approach around upstream responsible sourcing through “Microsoft’s Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials” policy.

    What’s changed in our thinking? We are extending our positive influence to the furthest reaches of our upstream supply chain – all the way to harvested and extracted materials. This is a natural evolution of our Supplier Social and Environmental Accountability (SEA) program. In 2005, we began holding our contracted suppliers accountable to the ethical business, labor, environmental and worker safety practices outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct. Since then, we’ve expanded our vision for SEA from operating responsibly to operating sustainably. Throughout our supply chain, we are committed to empowering people to do their best while preserving and sustainably using resources and upholding human rights, safety and business ethics.

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  • California lawmakers consider legislation allowing computer science to count toward high school graduation requirements

    Posted by Robyn Hines
    Senior Director for State Government Affairs, Microsoft

    Continuing the momentum on computer science education, on Wednesday the California State Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing to consider legislation that would allow computer science to count toward high school graduation requirements. The legislation, AB 1764, sponsored by California State Assembly members Kristin Olsen and Joan Buchanan, was passed by the committee and would allow computer science courses to count as a math or science credit.

    Why does this matter? Many industry sectors in U.S. are unable to find the high-skilled talent they need to sustain innovation. Experts estimate that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs. Yet, our colleges and universities are only graduating 50,000 students a year with degrees in computer science. Further compounding the problem, only 19 states and the District of Columbia currently allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements.

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  • Let’s ensure career opportunities for the best and brightest

    Posted by Mary Snapp
    Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    On Wednesday, Microsoft was honored to be recognized with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) inaugural Champion for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award for in-house counsel.

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  • EU privacy authorities approve Microsoft cloud contracts

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    In a post Thursday on The Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs Brad Smith announced that the European Union’s data protection authorities have found that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts meet the high standards of EU privacy law.

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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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  • 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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  • Nokia-Microsoft deal approved by Chinese Ministry of Commerce

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    In a post Tuesday on The Official Microsoft Blog, it was announced that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services.

    “MOFCOM’s decision effectively adopts Microsoft’s current patent licensing practices. In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone,” wrote David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, litigation and antitrust, Microsoft.

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  • Microsoft convenes panel on the relationship between consumers and copyright

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On March 27, leading experts on copyright and innovation gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C., to explore ways to promote consumer experiences, advance innovation and respect copyright.

    Over the last two decades, digital technology and the Internet have dramatically altered the ways in which content is created, distributed, accessed and enjoyed. As policymakers review copyright law and policies to assess what is working well and where there is opportunity for improvement, much of the discussion has focused on enforcement mechanisms rather than consumer relationships to copyright.

    Tom Rubin, Chief IP Strategy Counsel, Microsoft, delivered opening remarks highlighting the vast opportunities that exist today to allow consumers to create, store, use and enjoy works in new and compelling ways while still respecting the rights of creators.

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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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  • A cross-industry Partnership for American Innovation

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

    On Thursday, Microsoft announced it has joined the newly formed Partnership for American Innovation. The partnership includes Apple, DuPont, Ford, GE, IBM and Pfizer — a diverse group of industry-leading companies committed to strengthening a patent system that promotes a positive climate for technology innovation. David Kappos, former director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is senior adviser to the group.

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  • We’re listening: Additional steps to protect your privacy

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

    Last Thursday, news coverage focused on a case in 2012 in which our investigators accessed the Hotmail content of a user who was trafficking in stolen Microsoft source code. Over the past week, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect further on this issue, and as a result of conversations we’ve had internally and with advocacy groups and other experts, we’ve decided to take an additional step and make an important change to our privacy practices.

    Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.

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  • Microsoft, National Journal and The Atlantic convene ‘A New America’ town hall focused on Millennials and entrepreneurism

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Tuesday, Microsoft, National Journal and The Atlantic presented the second in their series of traveling town halls exploring the issues and challenges facing the next generation at The University of Texas at Austin.

    With its open and collaborative business climate, Austin has been transformed into a hotbed for new business, thanks in part to the growing population of Millennials. Tuesday’s discussion featured insight from local entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials on the impact and challenges of the Millennial generation.

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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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  • Strengthening our policies for investigations

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

    We believe that Outlook and Hotmail email are and should be private. Over the past 24 hours there has been coverage about a particular case, so we want to provide additional context and describe how we are strengthening our policies. 

    In this case, we took extraordinary actions based on the specific circumstances. We received information that indicated an employee was providing stolen intellectual property, including code relating to our activation process, to a third party who, in turn, had a history of trafficking for profit in this type of material. In order to protect our customers and the security and integrity of our products, we conducted an investigation over many months with law enforcement agencies in multiple countries. This included the issuance of a court order for the search of a home relating to evidence of the criminal acts involved. The investigation repeatedly identified clear evidence that the third party involved intended to sell Microsoft IP and had done so in the past.

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  • Studies spotlight adverse impact of immigration reform inaction

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

    In two weeks, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will start to accept this year’s applications for H-1B visas. As in previous years, demand is expected to outpace the spaces available and many will not be able to get a visa to work in this country. This annual shortfall is again a reminder of the need for Congress to finally pass immigration reform. 

    Many voices across the spectrum – including Microsoft’s – have spoken in favor of reform. Two new studies provide further reminders about its economic importance and jobs impact.

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  • Microsoft on World’s Most Ethical Companies list 4 years in a row

    Posted by Dan Bross
    Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft

    We are proud to be included in the 2014 list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, which was released by the Ethisphere Institute on Thursday.

    Ethical and responsible business practices are the bedrock of our corporate governance practices. These practices are designed to promote the interests of shareholders, maintain checks and balances, strengthen accountability and foster responsible decision making.

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  • New research forecasts the staggering cost of cybercrime

     Posted by David Finn
    Associate General Counsel & Executive Director, Microsoft Cybercrime Center

    A new study released Tuesday reaffirms what we in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit have seen for some time now – cybercrime is a booming business for organized crime groups all over the world. The study, conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore (NUS), reveals that businesses worldwide will spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with the problems caused by malware on pirated software. Individual consumers, meanwhile, are expected to spend $25 billion and waste 1.2 billion hours this year because of security threats and costly computer fixes.

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  • Microsoft applauds US NTIA’s transition of key Internet domain name functions

    Posted by David Tennenhouse
    Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Technology Policy

    The U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent announcement of its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a significant and welcome development. 

    Unlike the other major international communications networks (e.g., the telephone system and postal systems), there has been no single government-led organization that has guided the evolution and growth of the Internet. 

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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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  • Microsoft’s chief online safety officer reflects on first year in role

    Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer of the Family Online Safety Institute.

    Some years ago, I wrote a piece proposing that every tech company (and the White House) needed a Chief Online Safety Officer. Microsoft heeded the call. I sat down recently with Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer for Microsoft, to talk with her about her one-year work anniversary of being the COSO for Microsoft.

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