Yesterday I was on a panel in San Francisco sponsored by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) , Verizon, Google and Microsoft as part of a nationwide initiative to promote safe technological practices. NNEDV works closely with technology companies to inform survivors and domestic violence service programs on best practices for security and privacy.  NNEDV’s partnership with technology companies helps to identify emerging high-tech tools that could affect survivors’ ability to maintain confidentiality following the end of an abusive relationship.

 

Microsoft’s effort in online safety focuses on three main areas:  First, we invest in developing technologies that enhance safety, and just as importantly, technologies that  don’t inadvertently  hinder safety;  Second, we are involved in a wide range of partnerships, including  government, non-profits such as NNEDV, and other technology companies such as my co-panelists;  Third, we provide guidance and educational materials through our website at www.microsoft.com/protect  and through other outreach.

  Among Micosoft’s technology initiatives that help support victims of Domestic Violence are:

 

·        Anti-spyware software.  Since 2005, Microsoft has offered customers of our Windows operating systems free anti-spyware software, currently called Windows Defender. . Our antispyware software will identify the most commonly used monitoring software and provide customers with the option of disabling such software when it is installed secretly.

·        Microsoft Vista Parental Controls and Windows Live Family Safety.  Windows Vista contains parental controls that allow parents to restrict access to inappropriate websites, as well as monitor Internet access.  This is an area where Microsoft has worked with NNEDV to help ensure parental control monitoring is not used for abusive purposes.  Microsoft’s  internet monitoring function – only intended for use by parents – completely transparent to the user.  When the monitoring function is turned on, the user is always provided with notice.

As technology evolves new threats to privacy and safety will likely emerge. Our strategy involves not just developing our own tools, but  partnering with organizations like NNEDV, and producing the right educational materials.

--David Burt