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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

Topic: brad smith

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February 12, 2015 at 4:48 PM

Senators move to limit government’s ability to grab data abroad

Congress will have another crack at a data privacy topic close to Microsoft’s heart.

A trio of Senators on Thursday introduced a bill that would limit the scope of U.S. law enforcement to reach data stored abroad.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Dean Heller, and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to prevent prosecutors from grabbing data stored abroad unless the owner of the data was a U.S. person or company. The measure would also give courts the ability to void or modify warrants seeking foreign-stored data from service providers if the court finds that turning that data over would violate the laws of a foreign country.

Hatch introduced the same bill — dubbed the LEADS Act — last year, but it didn’t go anywhere before Congress adjourned. LEADS stands, clumsily, for “Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad.”

Microsoft, caught between government demands and its effort to reassure customers that their data is free from improper government collection, has campaigned for such a policy tweak.

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December 15, 2014 at 7:28 AM

Microsoft set to tout support in Ireland email warrant case

Microsoft this morning is going to broadcast the level of support it’s receiving in an email privacy court case. Literally.

The company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, is hosting a webcast event at Microsoft’s Times Square offices starting at 8 a.m. Pacific time. The panel, moderated by former ABC news anchor Charlie Gibson, is slated to feature other figures from trade and advocacy groups representing the tech industry, civil liberties and press freedoms.

The webcast will be accessible from Microsoft’s news site. Its worth keeping tabs on the site Microsoft rolled out as a sort of document depository for the case.  

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December 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Microsoft brief details company’s rebuff of U.S. search of Irish servers

If U.S. prosecutors can reach into a Microsoft server in Ireland and retrieve emails stored there, what’s to stop a German court from ordering a German bank to open a safe deposit box in its New York City branch?

That premise kicks off Microsoft’s latest salvo in its legal fight against a U.S. warrant seeking a customer’s email stored in Ireland:

Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.

Federal authorities ordered Microsoft in December 2013 to turn over a customer’s emails and other data prosecutors were seeking as part of a narcotics investigation.

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March 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Microsoft: From now on, we won’t snoop into your email even if we think you’re stealing from us

Microsoft took a lot of criticism last week after it was revealed that the company looked at the email content of one of its customers in the course of tracking down someone suspected of stealing trade secrets from the company.

Now Microsoft is changing its policy, saying that, in such circumstances, it will call in law enforcement to inspect a customer’s content, rather than doing so itself.

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May 14, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Advanced Placement Computer Science now counts toward math and science graduation requirements

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, State Rep. Drew Hansen, Gov. Jay Inslee and entrepreneur Hadi Partovi listen to Rainier Beach High School student Ifrah Abshir talk about her love of computer science. (Photo by Janet I. Tu / The Seattle Times)

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, State Rep. Drew Hansen, Gov. Jay Inslee and entrepreneur Hadi Partovi listen to Rainier Beach High School student Ifrah Abshir talk about her love of computer science. (Photo by Janet I. Tu / The Seattle Times)

Surrounded by students and teachers from Rainier Beach High School, along with representatives from the high-tech industry, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today allowing Advanced Placement Computer Science course to count toward the state’s high school math and science graduation requirements.

AP Computer Science has, since its inception, been an elective, said State Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge. Having it count toward graduation requirements is one step toward getting and training more students in the field — one that industry leaders says is facing a shortage of qualified workers.

“We live in a state that is a national leader when it comes to information technology,” said Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft, who spoke at the event. “Yet we have jobs that have been open for months…. We are not producing people with the skills needed to fill them.”

Pushing for changes in education and education funding for math, science and technology jobs is one part of a push Microsoft is making in contending with what it and other high-tech leaders say is a sizeable gap between supply and demand for high-tech workers. The other part is pushing to raise the limits on H-1B visas for foreign qualified high-tech workers.

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