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...]

  • New success in protecting customer rights unsealed today

     Successful challenge of National Security Letter protects longstanding policy of notifying enterprise customers if a government requests their data

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

    On Thursday, a federal court in Seattle unsealed documents related to an FBI National Security Letter that Microsoft successfully challenged in court late last year. This marks an important and successful step to protect Microsoft's enterprise customers regarding government surveillance. 

    Because information about the case wasn’t public until today, this is our first opportunity to discuss it in detail. Given the strong ongoing worldwide interest in these issues, we wanted to provide some additional context on the matter.

    [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.

    [Read more...]

  • Advancing our encryption and transparency efforts

     Posted by Matt Thomlinson
    Vice President, Trustworthy Computing Security, Microsoft

    In December, we announced our commitment to further increase the security of our customers’ data. We also announced our plans to reinforce legal protections for our customers’ data, and continue to increase transparency in how we engage with governments around the world. We are making positive progress on all of these fronts. 

    We are in the midst of a comprehensive engineering effort to strengthen encryption across our networks and services. Our goal is to provide even greater protection for data across all the great Microsoft services you use and depend on every day. This effort also helps us reinforce that governments use appropriate legal processes, not technical brute force, if they want access to that data. 

    As part of that, today we’re announcing three important milestones that honor our commitments to security and increased transparency.

    [Read more...]

  • 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.

    [Read more...]