Posted by Mary SnappDeputy General Counsel, Microsoft
Last week, Brad Smith wrote a post on the encouraging signs that privacy is not only on peoples’ minds but that real actions are being taken to strengthen consumers’ online privacy. Key groups helping to shape the future of online privacy are moving closer to consensus on standards and rules to better protect people’s information. And consumer groups, as well as consumers themselves, are raising their voices and urging the computing industry to work together to give people more choice and control over how information is collected and shared online.
Today, we’re showing our commitment to that evolving dialogue with the launch of several consumer-focused actions: a targeted ad campaign in two U.S. cities – Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, MO – and a new online resource for consumers that will help them learn about their privacy behaviors and take steps to shape their online personas.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Today, the U.S. Senate took a significant first step toward reforming our nation’s broken and outdated immigration system with the introduction of comprehensive legislation by the ‘Gang of 8’ Senators. The bipartisan bill will broaden economic prosperity in both the short and long run by increasing access to the best and brightest talent from around the world, while also providing American students and workers with additional STEM education and training opportunities.
We thank the Senators for their leadership on this proposal and look forward to continuing to help refine the legislation. Microsoft strongly hopes that the legislative process will now move forward, as a comprehensive approach will strengthen our country’s long term economy. The bill contains numerous positive reforms that are essential for the continued growth of the tech sector, such as urgently needed increases in high-skilled visas and solutions to address the extensive backlog in employment-based green cards. It also provides for increased worker portability for visas and removes outdated per country caps for green cards.
Importantly, the legislation also helps us take steps to build our American workforce by establishing a new STEM education fund. The creation of a new STEM fund will help states invest in innovative programs that will build a stronger pipeline of U.S. workers equipped with the right skills for America’s future jobs.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) at a special summit in Maryland focused on privacy in the digital age. The summit marked a key point in a year-long initiative by NAAG President and Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler aimed at exploring the best ways to manage online privacy risks and how best for NAAG to apply its resources to help ensure that the Internet's major players take meaningful steps to protect privacy online. We at Microsoft definitely appreciated the leadership and work of Attorney General Gansler in making privacy a priority for his office. His goals and the goals of NAAG are very much in line with our belief that, done right, online privacy and the economic model that supports the free Web can take a big step forward.
At the outset of 2013, I wrote that this could be a pivotal year for our industry as it pertains to prioritizing people’s online privacy. Now, just a few months into the year, there is substantial cause for optimism.
New leaders with strong commitments to privacy have taken the helm at a number of key groups that will help shape the future of online privacy. Collectively, we’re continuing the hard work needed to reach consensus on standards and rules to better protect people’s information. And consumer groups, as well as consumers themselves, are raising their voices and urging the computing industry to work together to give people more choice and control over how information is collected and shared online.
Beginning next week – on April 1 – employers can start filing applications for H-1B visas for skilled workers that they are looking to hire to fill open jobs here in the U.S. Many of these potential workers are foreign-born students about to graduate in science, technology, engineering and math from U.S. universities, and are in demand to fill critical jobs in the U.S. economy.
Each year, there are only 85,000 H-1B visas available for highly skilled individuals – 65,000 visas under the regular “cap” and 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.
This year, many employers and highly skilled potential workers are facing April 1 with increased anxiety since the U.S. government again expects all the H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year to be snatched up in the first week.
Today, we are releasing our 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report. This is our first Law Enforcement Requests Report. It provides data on the number of requests we received from law enforcement agencies around the world relating to Microsoft online and cloud services and how we responded to those requests. All of our major online services are covered in this report, including, for example, Hotmail, Outlook.com; SkyDrive; Xbox LIVE; Microsoft Account; and Office 365. We’re also making available similar data relating to Skype, which Microsoft acquired in October 2011.
We will update this report every six months.
In recent months, there has been broadening public interest in how often law enforcement agencies request customer data from technology companies and how our industry responds to these requests. Google, Twitter and others have made important and helpful contributions to this discussion by publishing some of their data. We’ve benefited from the opportunity to learn from them and their experience, and we seek to build further on the industry’s commitment to transparency by releasing our own data today.