Marketplace Dynamics

  • 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.

    [Read more...]

  • 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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  • Providing additional transparency on US government requests for customer data

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

    Today we are updating our transparency reporting to provide new information relating to governmental demands for customer data.  Beginning last summer, Microsoft, Google, and other companies filed lawsuits against the U.S. government arguing that we have a legal and constitutional right to disclose more detailed information about these demands.  We contended that we should be able to disclose information about legal orders issued pursuant to U.S. national security laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which we had previously been barred from disclosing.

    As a result of that litigation and after lengthy discussions, the Government recently agreed for the first time to permit technology companies to publish data about FISA orders. While there remain some constraints on what we can publish (more details on that below), we are now able to present a comprehensive picture of the types of requests that we receive from the U.S. Government pursuant to national security authorities.

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  • Marking Data Privacy Day with dialogue and new data

     Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    We at Microsoft focus on privacy protections for our customers every day of the year. On Jan. 28, we join others across private and public sectors around the world to mark Data Privacy Day (DPD) – which is also known as Data Protection Day in Europe where it began in 2006. In support of the day’s focus on educating and empowering people, I’ll be participating in a DPD panel discussion hosted by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 28, and will share the results of a new Microsoft commissioned survey that measured online privacy perceptions among technology savvy individuals in the U.S. and four European countries (Belgium, France, Germany and the UK).

    Our panel discussion will focus on “Notice and Consent: Innovating a New Path Forward,” where we’ll explore the complex opportunities and challenges that businesses, civil society and government must overcome to adapt traditional privacy models for the era of big data and the Internet of Things.

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  • Time for an international convention on government access to data

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

    Last week, President Obama spoke about the role of the National Security Agency and announced some important changes to the surveillance practices of the U.S. government. We appreciate the steps the President announced, which represent positive progress on key issues including privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens. There is more work to do to define some of the details and additional steps that are needed, so we’ll continue to work with both the administration and Congress to advocate for reforms consistent with the principles our industry outlined in December.

    This week, the World Economic Forum holds its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland where these same issues of data privacy and reform of government surveillance will be on the agenda. We hope that these discussions will spur a focus on the international steps that governments can take together. While there is no substitute for American leadership and action on these issues, the time has come for a broader international discussion. We need an international legal framework – an international convention – to create surveillance and data-access rules across borders.

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