Microsoft on the Issues

  • 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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  • 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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  • The key to a secure cyberspace: Speed and resilience

    Posted by Mark Williams
    Chief Security Officer, Microsoft Federal

    Organizations of all types today face a daily and growing assault from nation states, lone actors and organized crime. The effects of a cyber-attack can be as far-reaching, troublesome and significant as physical attacks, and can make or break organizations that are not sufficiently prepared. The question is, how can an organization embed cyber security into its suite of core business functions?

    Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one of the world’s most prominent security experts, shared his assessment of the current cyber security landscape at this week’s 2014 Microsoft Federal Executive Forum, an annual event hosted by Microsoft for its federal government community customers.

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  • Microsoft, experts gather for Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C.

     Posted by Peter Cullen
    General Manager, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    This week is particularly exciting for the many people at Microsoft who focus on data privacy. Several of us will attend the annual Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). It is a week for privacy professionals from around the world to convene and discuss the big topics that industry, civil society and governments work on collectively to advance the state of privacy protections in today’s data-rich world.

    Scott Charney, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, will deliver a keynote address on Thursday that explores both the trust dynamics resulting from ongoing disclosures regarding government data access and the challenges facing commercial data privacy models in a world of increasingly ubiquitous computing.

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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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  • Conundrums in cyberspace — exploiting security in the name of, well, security

     Posted by Scott Charney
    Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    At Microsoft, establishing and sustaining trust with our customers is essential. If our customers can’t rely on us to protect their data—whether from crooks, mismanagement or excessive government intrusion—they will look elsewhere for a technology provider.

    Government access to data is a hot topic. But it’s not new. In fact, our General Counsel, Brad Smith, has addressed the issue in a series of blog posts covering, among other topics, our efforts to protect customers and our support for reforming government surveillance.

    On Tuesday at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, I gave a speech on the changing cybersecurity landscape and the respective roles of governments, users and the IT industry. I’d like to share some of my thoughts here.

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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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