Continued progress and support in fighting secrecy orders | Microsoft On The Issues

Continued progress and support in fighting secrecy orders | Microsoft On The Issues

Today, I’m sharing continued progress in our work to notify our enterprise customers when the U.S. government seeks access to their data. We don’t receive many U.S. requests for enterprise customer data, but when we do, they sometimes come with secrecy orders. As we have previously shared, we strongly believe our customers own their data and have a right to control it. We also believe that, absent extraordinary circumstances, customers have a right to know when law enforcement requests their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them. For these reasons, we challenge secrecy orders when we believe they need a second look by the courts.

In the past year, we filed two cases resulting in these orders being withdrawn, both of which were recently unsealed. We’re also sharing that, in recent weeks, a third case we brought received widespread support from technology companies, major media companies, the business community and prominent former federal prosecutors…

Today, businesses increasingly store their records in the cloud, harnessing the immense computing power the cloud provides. Some law enforcement authorities have tried to exploit this migration of business data to the cloud by issuing secret legal process requiring the cloud provider to produce the company’s data – and then obtaining a secrecy order to silence the provider. This avoids the notice that businesses have historically received when law enforcement authorities seize their property. Congress could help by updating the rules under ECPA to align with the notice requirements for warrants that apply to physical searches. Now, more than ever, businesses should not be at a disadvantage simply because they store their data in the cloud.

In addition to the challenges to secrecy orders we’re sharing today, we also made a new pledge this past November to challenge underlying requests for enterprise or public-sector cloud data.

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Sustaining pro bono services during the pandemic with technical innovation | Microsoft On The Issues

Sustaining pro bono services during the pandemic with technical innovation | Microsoft On The Issues

Since the launch of Microsoft’s formal pro bono program 17 years ago, our employees have engaged in a diverse range of pro bono activities around the world. The strength of our program is fueled by our employees’ commitment to helping others through pro bono service. Today, we are publishing our Microsoft 2020 Pro Bono Report, highlighting our employees’ work over the past year in partnership with a number of great legal service organizations.

The report spans our past fiscal year, the second half of which fell squarely during the pandemic. In so many ways, there are stark contrasts between life before and during Covid-19, and we’ve felt it within our pro bono program. It really has been a tale of two programs this past year. The first half of the fiscal year looked similar to years past. In contrast, the second half brought a significant increase in need due to the pandemic and at the same time required rapid changes in how pro bono services are provided, leveraging remote service models and technologies in innovative new ways…

Looking forward

In the 17-year history of Microsoft’s pro bono program, this may be the most challenging year we’ve seen for the pro bono community, with staggering need, resource constraints, and physical restrictions inhibiting traditional service models. At the same time, the work being done by organizations like NWIRP, the King County courts, and HJP have made it an exceptionally heartening year as well. Together, we have learned a lot about resilience, innovation, and embracing change. And we have discovered new ways technology can be deployed to help those in need. Although necessitated by the pandemic, the shift to remote pro bono legal support and the expanded use of technology has the potential to improve pro bono service delivery well beyond the pandemic. Technology provides us with tools to better collaborate, be more efficient in the services we provide, expand the geographies in which we can provide support, and gain new insights about the needs of those we serve.

As we look ahead to the new year – and hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future returning to a world where we can be in person safely – we’re grateful that this time has resulted in innovations that we, our partners, and the broader pro bono community can continue to use to grow the impact and reach of pro bono services to those who need them.

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Microsoft launches anti-corruption technology and solutions | Microsoft On The Issues

Microsoft launches anti-corruption technology and solutions | Microsoft On The Issues

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Anti-Corruption Day. On this day, Microsoft is proud to join with others from around the world to use our voice in support of International Anti-Corruption Day and to commit to take steps to reduce corruption.

In recognition of this important day, we are launching Microsoft Anti-Corruption Technology and Solutions (ACTS) to help empower governments and other stakeholders in their corruption fight. With this initiative, we hope to bend the curve of corruption by helping governments innovate with technology, expertise, and other resources…

The opportunity

At Microsoft, we believe corruption is an urgent global issue that can and must be solved. It will require a focused and comprehensive solution, and it will require governments, civil society, and the private sector all working together to promote transparency, create effective controls, and drive accountability. It is a daunting task, but never before has the world had the kinds of tools to fight corruption that exist today. We know, for instance, that data can illuminate hidden patterns and relationships to provide governments with better tools to ensure public moneys go to their intended purposes. Technology resources such as cloud computing, data visualization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning provide powerful tools for governments and corporations to aggregate and analyze their enormous and complex datasets in the cloud, ferreting out corruption from the shadows where it lives, and even preventing corruption before it happens.

Our commitment

In the next decade, Microsoft ACTS will leverage the company’s investments in cloud computing, data visualization, AI, machine learning, and other emerging technologies to enhance transparency and to detect and deter corruption. We will endeavor to bring the most promising solutions to the broadest possible audience, using our partner networks, programs, and global employee base to scale solutions through careful consideration of their priorities, technical infrastructure, and capabilities…

We stand with the United Nations and the initiatives undertaken by governments around the world to stamp out corruption, and we look forward to working with governments, civil society, and others in the private sector to help us all recover with integrity.

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Responding to the OFCCP on our June diversity commitments | Microsoft On The Issues

Responding to the OFCCP on our June diversity commitments | Microsoft On The Issues

In a spirit of transparency, we want to disclose that Microsoft was contacted last week by the United States Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regarding some of the commitments we made in June to address issues faced by the Black and African American community. Microsoft, like all federal contractors, is subject to several OFCCP requirements, including those with respect to employment practices. Specifically, the OFCCP has focused on whether Microsoft’s commitment to double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors and senior leaders in our U.S. workforce by 2025 could constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, which would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

We have every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all U.S. employment laws. We look forward to providing the OFCCP with this information and, if necessary, defending our approach…

Emphatically, they are not.

We are clear that the law prohibits us from discriminating on the basis of race. We also have affirmative obligations as a company that serves the federal government to continue to increase the diversity of our workforce, and we take those obligations very seriously. We have decades of experience and know full well how to appropriately create opportunities for people without taking away opportunities from others. Furthermore, we know that we need to focus on creating more opportunity, including through specific programs designed to cast a wide net for talent for whom we can provide careers with Microsoft..

We believe it is a core part of our mission to make our company, our community and our country a place where people of diverse views and backgrounds are welcomed and can thrive. We know that as a company and a country we have more work to do to expand opportunity. We look forward to helping the OFCCP understand the legality of our programs as we work towards a shared goal of promoting diversity in full conformity with federal law.

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Recognizing our law firms for diversity progress and innovation | Microsoft on the Issues

Recognizing our law firms for diversity progress and innovation | Microsoft on the Issues

At Microsoft, we recognize that the business we transact with our supplier base can make a material impact in fostering greater levels of diversity in their various industries. That’s why last year Microsoft spent more than $2.9 billion working with suppliers who are minority-, disabled-, veteran-, LGBTQ+, and woman-owned businesses.

In 2008, we created our Law Firm Diversity Program (LFDP) to foster collaboration with our law firm partners to help increase diversity in the legal profession. We built the LFDP around three enduring principles: (1) diversity (both within Microsoft’s legal department and at our partner firms) leads to better business outcomes; (2) accountability can accelerate progress; and (3) working together collaboratively on diversity is necessary to us make real and enduring progress. Our initial program focused on financially rewarding our partner firms for increasing diversity at their firms overall, with diversity being defined broadly to include women and racial and ethnic minorities, individuals identifying as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and veterans. In 2015, we evolved the program to focus on increasing diversity in firm leadership, including in the firms’ management committees, partnership and partners working on Microsoft work…

Expanding our Law Firm Diversity Program to recognize innovation in diversity programs

While we applaud the progress that has been made, we also recognize that there is still much to do. The legal profession continues to lag behind other industries and the diversity of our communities overall, whether for women, minorities or other diverse groups. Ongoing progress will require us to think more broadly than diversity metrics alone…

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