Microsoft

  • January 8, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Terri Gerstein, Leadership in Government Fellow, Open Society Foundations

    Last month, Microsoft announced that it will no longer require employees to bring sexual harassment claims to arbitration. This is welcome news, and a step in the right direction. But this move should be a first step. Microsoft now has the opportunity to lead the business community in eliminating these agreements not just for sexual harassment issues, but altogether. Microsoft could also use its considerable leverage to require its subcontractors to do the same. Meanwhile, federal and state government leaders should take their own actions to stop the harmful consequences of the exploding trend of forced arbitration.

  • December 19, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

    *This piece was originally posted on Microsoft On The Issues
     
    Across the country, recurring news stories about sexual harassment have opened our collective eyes to a critical problem right under our nose: sexual harassment. As many rightly have said, the #MeToo movement has created a national reckoning. As we’ve talked with and listened to our own employees at Microsoft, we’ve realized that it also needs to be more than this. It needs national reflection.
  • October 16, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

    *This piece originally appeared on Microsoft on the Issues on October 16, 2017.

    In July 2016, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Microsoft that U.S. federal or state law enforcement cannot use traditional search warrants to seize emails of citizens of foreign countries that are located in data centers outside the United States.  Today, the Supreme Court granted the Department of Justice’s petition to review Microsoft’s victory.  This is an important case that people around the world will watch.  We will continue to press our case in court that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) – a law enacted decades before there was such a thing as cloud computing – was never intended to reach within other countries’ borders.

  • June 28, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Chris Calabrese, Vice President, Policy, Center for Democracy & Technology

    Last week in United States vs. Microsoft, the Department of Justice (DOJ) petitioned the Supreme Court to decide the reach of the U.S. government when compelling U.S. companies to turn over data stored outside the U.S. Courts are divided on the issue. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) cannot reach extraterritorially. Magistrates in other circuits have disagreed, interpreting the search as occurring where a company discloses data, not where the data is seized. However, what no one disputes is that as the number of requests skyrockets, the system for accessing data across borders is deeply in need of reform and that courts are ill-suited to tackle the complicated equities at stake.

    The current system uses Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) to allow foreign law enforcement to pass requests to their domestic counterparts, who in turn serve them on specific providers. The process is slow and sometimes frustrating for law enforcement. U.S. service providers are frequently caught in the middle – they are not only worried about violating the privacy rules of a particular country, but also about thwarting legitimate investigations. At the same time, privacy advocates rightly note that U.S. law – undergirded in many cases by the protections of the Fourth Amendment – is particularly strong and should not be abandoned.

    While there are no perfect solutions to this problem, at the Center for Democracy & Technology we have argued that significant progress can made through a package of reforms focused in four areas:

  • June 28, 2017

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    On June 23, hours before a midnight deadline, the Department of Justice filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court asking them to review a case that may define the territorial reach of U.S. warrants.

    In U.S. v. Microsoft, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Microsoft had no obligation to produce to the government customer emails stored on an overseas server. In so ruling, the Second Circuit held that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) did not apply extraterritorially and that the Department of Justice had to rely on the processes outlined in the United States-Ireland Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty should they want to access the information.

    As Judge Susan Carney on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit correctly pointed out in her written concurrence in the order denying rehearing en banc: “It is overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose.” Notably, Carney was also part of the original Second Circuit panel decision.

    Since the Second Circuit’s decision both the House and the Senate have held hearings to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

    Read the Department of Justice’s June 23 petition. And here is a link to Microsoft’s response.