Microsoft on the Issues http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues News and perspectives on legal, public policy and citizenship topics Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:15:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 Bringing more cloud power to serve nonprofits http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/26/bringing-more-cloud-power-to-serve-nonprofits/ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:00:02 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39887 As the reach and capabilities of cloud computing continue to expand, so too does its potential to better serve the people and organizations working to address vital issues facing our planet and its populations. More and more, we are seeing nonprofit organizations utilize the fuller capabilities of the cloud to pursue their missions. And, as the examples below demonstrate, the cloud is unlocking benefits such as insight, agility and operational Read more »

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As the reach and capabilities of cloud computing continue to expand, so too does its potential to better serve the people and organizations working to address vital issues facing our planet and its populations. More and more, we are seeing nonprofit organizations utilize the fuller capabilities of the cloud to pursue their missions. And, as the examples below demonstrate, the cloud is unlocking benefits such as insight, agility and operational efficiency that are enhancing nonprofits’ ability to help those who need it most.

That’s why I’m pleased to share that Microsoft is taking another step in fulfilling our $1 billion commitment to ensure that our cloud serves the public good. Today, through Microsoft Philanthropies, we are making Microsoft Azure broadly available to eligible nonprofit organizations by offering Azure credits. Microsoft Azure’s cloud services help organizations accelerate innovation with integrated intelligence that powers insights and decision-making, supports a broad selection of operating systems, and provides industry-leading security. This offer adds to the existing comprehensive suite of Microsoft cloud services that are available to nonprofits to empower their missions.

Azure, Microsoft Philanthropies

Microsoft’s nonprofit partner CONIN uses Microsoft Azure and the cloud to help eradicate child malnutrition in Salta, Argentina.

As we prepared to roll out Azure, my team and I met with several of our nonprofit partners who have been utilizing its capabilities to increase their operational efficiency and impact. One such nonprofit partner, CONIN, is working to eradicate child malnutrition in Salta, a remote region in Argentina. They’ve shared that Microsoft Azure has enabled them to gain a greater understanding of on-the-ground realities through detailed mapping of children’s needs and organizational resourcing by region. The resulting insights have allowed CONIN to reach more at-risk families, with better solutions, before they fall through the cracks.

“Technology makes us much faster and enables us to have every child in the system,” says Teresa Cornejo, president of a CONIN network in the city of Salta. Paper surveys have been replaced with a digital, cloud-based polling solution, helping CONIN identify and support families with nutritional, educational and medical needs.

As another example, Partners In Health (PIH) is using Azure and other cloud solutions to improve its delivery of critical health services around the world. By moving their servers to the cloud, PIH was able to save $250,000 in IT costs because they no longer need to maintain their own servers. And every dollar saved on IT is another dollar that can more directly serve those in need. Beyond dollars saved, the Microsoft Cloud is helping PIH better address complex crises. For example, when the Ebola outbreak in West Africa happened, PIH needed to immediately mobilize the experts and caregivers in its network to begin saving lives. Ebola was spreading at an alarming rate and there wasn’t much information available to those at risk in Sierra Leone and Liberia. In these situations, reliable communications can mean the difference between life and death. PIH’s use of Office 365 enabled them to more effectively communicate, collaborate and coordinate their team to address the crisis.

“The Microsoft Cloud helps our entire staff stay connected and work together in real time,” says Marc Julmisse, chief nursing officer at University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti. “The cloud gave us a single platform to reach across our entire organization, even to the most remote places in the world.”

Microsoft Philanthropies, Azure, health

With the cloud, Partners In Health can now communicate with its staff much faster – even in the most remote corners of the world.

CONIN and PIH are compelling examples of how the Microsoft Cloud can empower nonprofits to achieve their missions with greater insights, capabilities and efficiency. That means outcomes for families, children and the planet improve. The nonprofits we serve are not only inspiring, but their impact fuels our determination at Microsoft Philanthropies to marry the full power of cloud computing with the passion of the people and organizations who are working to address the world’s most pressing issues.

To see how your nonprofit can benefit from Microsoft Azure and to qualify for available credits, visit microsoft.com/nonprofits

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opening http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/23/smithsonians-national-museum-african-american-history-culture-opening/ Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:00:08 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39923 This week, I am honored to witness the opening of a new landmark in the heart of our nation’s capital that will tell the history of the African-American experience. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening on Washington D.C.’s National Mall as the only national museum devoted to African-American history and culture, and I am proud to partner with the Smithsonian on behalf of Microsoft Read more »

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This week, I am honored to witness the opening of a new landmark in the heart of our nation’s capital that will tell the history of the African-American experience. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening on Washington D.C.’s National Mall as the only national museum devoted to African-American history and culture, and I am proud to partner with the Smithsonian on behalf of Microsoft to tell these stories.

We believe the art, culture and stories of African-Americans are vibrant and important narratives in our nation’s history. That’s why in March, Microsoft made a $1 million donation to the museum, to help bring these perspectives to life in a powerful and enriching experience.

Microsoft’s support of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is part of our longstanding commitment to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do – both at our company and in our communities. Providing an inclusive forum for African-American history and culture will promote diversity of thought, ideas and understanding, which is what Microsoft believes drives progress and innovation.

The museum opening is also important to me personally. I spent my childhood on the campuses of two historically black colleges and universities – Tennessee State University and Florida A&M University –where my father was university president. There, the stories of dreams, accomplishments and struggles of African-Americans throughout history were all around me. Then as a student at Morehouse College, I looked forward to the Chapel Talks and the inspirational speakers who would come to campus each week.

Walking through the museum brought to life many of the stories that influenced every stage of my life and the remarkable achievements of the African-American community throughout history. To see, all at once, the tragedies and the triumphs of African-American people – and, in turn, Americans – through this exhibit was transformative:  I could walk from the pallor of a slave quarters to the shine of Chuck Berry’s Cadillac; step away from a dull green stool from a Greensboro lunch counter to view the memorabilia of legendary entertainers from Billie Holiday to Michael Jackson; and see slave shackles and the broad, brave shoulders of General Colin Powell’s uniform. This moved me as an adult, and I can only imagine what our children’s children will experience as we continue to build upon this already rich history and culture. African-Americans continue to amaze, inspire and innovate – every day. These achievements will be documented at the museum for future generations to look back on.

From the history of Native Americans to the journey toward space travel, the story of our country has been told many ways in the museums and monuments that dot the National Mall. It is a true joy to see the African-American story take its rightful place as another pillar of that history. I encourage you to spend time exploring the museum and absorbing its rich history.

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Update on Microsoft’s approach to proxy access and shareholder rights http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/22/update-microsofts-approach-proxy-access-shareholder-rights/ Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:17:11 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39902 We routinely evaluate Microsoft’s governance policies to ensure they are meeting the needs of our diverse shareholders. At times, this process also includes an evolution of our practices in response to broader developments in corporate governance. One of the most recent examples was in August 2015, when we were one of the first companies to proactively adopt a “Proxy Access for Director Nominations” bylaw. The bylaw permits a Microsoft shareholder Read more »

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We routinely evaluate Microsoft’s governance policies to ensure they are meeting the needs of our diverse shareholders. At times, this process also includes an evolution of our practices in response to broader developments in corporate governance.

One of the most recent examples was in August 2015, when we were one of the first companies to proactively adopt a “Proxy Access for Director Nominations” bylaw. The bylaw permits a Microsoft shareholder or a group of up to 20 shareholders owning 3 percent or more of Microsoft’s outstanding shares continuously for at least three years to have the ability to nominate two individuals or 20 percent of the board’s seats (whichever is greater), provided the shareholders and nominees satisfy the requirements specified in the bylaws. We believe these criteria maintain an appropriate equilibrium by ensuring that a candidate nomination is supported by shareholders representing a significant but attainable proportion of outstanding shares.

I’m pleased to share that this week, our board voted to refine this bylaw based on perspectives offered by institutional investors over the past year. These changes will:

  • Clarify how to count a group of funds as a single shareholder, consistent with the intent that a group of sufficiently related funds be counted as one;
  • Better match the treatment of shares loaned by investors with investment industry practice; and
  • Harmonize the threshold for shareholders resubmitting a nominee with our board’s recent decision to lower the percentage of shareholders required to call a special shareholder meeting.

I also want to take this opportunity to elaborate on the last point. In 2009 we amended our corporate charter to give shareholders representing 25 percent of shares outstanding the right to call a special shareholder meeting. We did so because we recognized the right to call special meetings was becoming an important element of good corporate governance.

At this year’s Annual Shareholders Meeting on Nov. 30, our board will propose to expand this right for shareholders with an amendment that would lower the shares required to 15 percent. We believe this change puts Microsoft squarely in the mainstream of established practice.  Based on discussions with shareholders and a review of voting results on proposals relating to shareholder-initiated special meetings, we also believe this change is broadly supported among significant institutional investors, proxy advisors, and other governance advocates.

Additional information about this action will appear in our annual meeting proxy materials that we will begin distributing in mid-October.

These changes reflect our willingness to adapt our approach to governance in response to lessons learned by others, feedback from our shareholders, and the changing governance environment. Accordingly, we deeply value the continued interest of and feedback from our shareholders, and are committed to maintaining our active engagement with shareholders to ensure a diversity of perspectives are thoughtfully considered. As we move closer to our Annual Shareholders Meeting, we invite you to write us at AskBoard@microsoft.com about the Board of Directors or corporate governance at Microsoft.

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An idea whose time has come: A new Cascadia Innovation Corridor connecting Vancouver and Seattle http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/20/idea-whose-time-come-new-cascadia-innovation-corridor-connecting-vancouver-seattle/ Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:27:17 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39821 Leaders from across British Columbia and Washington state have come together in Vancouver today to talk about an important opportunity. The Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference focuses on laying the groundwork for an innovation corridor linking Seattle and Vancouver. Vancouver and Seattle have many things in common and many complementary strengths. We also have an opportunity to contribute to a region that is stronger than its individual parts. Working together, Read more »

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Leaders from across British Columbia and Washington state have come together in Vancouver today to talk about an important opportunity. The Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference focuses on laying the groundwork for an innovation corridor linking Seattle and Vancouver.

Vancouver and Seattle have many things in common and many complementary strengths. We also have an opportunity to contribute to a region that is stronger than its individual parts. Working together, we can build a globally competitive 21st century innovation corridor that connects and enhances both regions. This in fact is a unique opportunity to create social and economic opportunity for the nearly 12 million people who live in Washington state and British Columbia today.

Today’s conference was organized by the Business Council of British Columbia, the Washington Roundtable and Microsoft, and laid a foundation for future collaboration. Beyond the rich discussion, there were specific commitments from leaders on both sides of the border to take concrete steps. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a formal agreement that their governments would deepen their collaboration in key areas like trade, research, transportation and education.

In addition, the leaders of B.C. Cancer Agency, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center agreed to work together on detailed plans to expand patient access to care and clinical trials, advance immunotherapy, enable research collaboration, and provide better training opportunities for young scientists and researchers.

Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver, B.C. on Sept. 20, 2016.

To better understand the current situation and to identify areas of opportunity, the Boston Consulting Group presented a new white paper. It shows that, while Vancouver and Seattle are only 120 miles (or 193 kilometers) apart, the current connections between the two cities are relatively weak. People in each city sometimes interact more with individuals in cities thousands of miles away than they do with each other. Relatively few companies or public-sector organizations in the two cities regularly collaborate today. Yet, as the white paper highlights, metropolitan city regions are fast becoming the centers of global competition. Worldwide, 300 metro areas, representing 10 percent of the global population, produce about 50 percent of the world’s GDP. That’s one reason creating a larger, interconnected region offers huge benefits.

To address these challenges, the Boston Consulting Group suggests several steps that the Vancouver and Seattle regions can take to work more cohesively as a larger Cascadia Innovation Corridor. It suggests reducing obstacles to the access of talent in neighboring markets, and better collaboration between universities and research institutions. It recommends sharing best practices toward creating a more business-friendly environment. It proposes joint efforts to bring local wealth off the sidelines, and redirecting some foreign wealth today invested in real estate, toward the innovation sector. And it suggests strengthening connections and reducing travel times through investments in transportation – potentially including high-speed rail. This could shrink the journey time to under an hour.

The report also shows that there is an opportunity to improve Vancouver’s innovation ecosystem through a deeper relationship with Seattle’s innovation sector companies and nonprofits. This is a subject particularly relevant to Microsoft, as we’ve been engaged for several years in helping grow the Vancouver technology ecosystem.  In June of this year, we opened a major development center in British Columbia. Microsoft Vancouver, ultimately housing 750 employees, will inject $90 million in direct investment in the city annually. And it will have an estimated economic impact of $180 million each year across the province.

Those who visit Microsoft Vancouver will immediately recognize the talent of British Columbia’s workforce. Among many other things, Microsoft Vancouver hosts 50 students from Canadian universities each year, who get to select interesting and challenging projects to work on, and develop critical skills in the process.

Of course, since 1986 we’ve called the Seattle area home, and we now have nearly 45,000 employees in the Puget Sound. We’ve played our part in helping to create – and in turn we have benefited significantly from – Seattle’s vibrant tech and innovation scene. We’ve seen first-hand Seattle’s growth and the success of the many new companies born in Seattle. We’ve also built strong partnerships across the community, including with the University of Washington, which is such a vital asset to the whole region.

By many measures both Seattle and Vancouver – and the communities around these cities – are thriving. But as we look to the future we can do more together and to create social and economic opportunities for generations to come. We have the opportunity to contribute to a Cascadia Innovation Corridor that builds on the strengths and shared values of these two great cities and that creates a brighter future for everyone, on both sides of the border.

It’s a big idea. It will take hard work, creative thinking and strong partnerships. But judging by the commitment from leaders from across government, business, academia and the community who came together in Vancouver today, it just might be an idea whose time has come.

Brad Smih, Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference

Microsoft President Brad Smith, center, Telus Chief Corporate Officer and Executive Vice President Josh Blair and Business Council of British Columbia President and Chief Executive Officer Greg D’Avignon speaking at the Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver, B.C, on Sept. 20, 2016.

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New Beijing Transparency Center announced http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/19/new-beijing-transparency-center-announced/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 07:30:06 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39800 Today we announced our third Microsoft Transparency Center – this one in Beijing, China – which adds to facilities opened in the United States in 2014 and Belgium in 2015. Microsoft Transparency Centers were announced in 2013 as part of a number of programs designed to increase trust in Microsoft’s offerings. For government customers, our work in the area of transparency is particularly critical as they want to know with Read more »

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Today we announced our third Microsoft Transparency Center – this one in Beijing, China – which adds to facilities opened in the United States in 2014 and Belgium in 2015.

Microsoft Transparency Centers were announced in 2013 as part of a number of programs designed to increase trust in Microsoft’s offerings. For government customers, our work in the area of transparency is particularly critical as they want to know with a high level of assurance that our products are engineered to withstand the security threats they see every day. In fact, having this assurance often helps them determine whether they should adopt new technologies that can transform government services and bring the benefits of information technology to their people.

Just like our Microsoft Transparency Centers in North America and Europe, our new facility in Asia enables government IT experts to test and analyze our products closely and gain confidence that our software will stand up to their security needs when deployed broadly. These facilities are designed to provide deep ability to understand the security we deploy, and do so in an environment that ensures our products remain proprietary and protected. Simply put, governments have the ability to review our products and services, both manually and by running tools, but they cannot alter what is delivered to customers. We plan to bring this capability to even more government customers through the addition of other new Microsoft Transparency Centers that will be announced in the coming weeks.

While Microsoft Transparency Centers are relatively new, addressing issues of trust with government customers goes back to 2002 when Bill Gates announced Microsoft’s Government Security Program (GSP). Since then, this program has grown and changed to meet the broader needs of governments in today’s environment, including providing information about the security of our products and services, sharing information about threats and vulnerabilities, and continuing to provide online access to inspect our products, as we have for over a decade. Today almost 70 agencies from almost 40 national governments and international organizations worldwide are part of the GSP and take advantage of tools like Microsoft Transparency Centers. China was one of the earliest adopters of the GSP.

An event to commemorate the opening of the new Microsoft Transparency Center in Beijing is being planned for this fall.

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Federal Circuit rules on software patent eligibility http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/13/federal-circuit-rules-software-patent-eligibility/ Wed, 14 Sep 2016 00:07:06 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39716 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an important decision today, strengthening the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act. Software technologies are at the center of our economy and playing a role in helping to transform industries in so many fields, including manufacturing, retail and health care. Recently, the federal courts have been grappling with the issue of which software Read more »

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an important decision today, strengthening the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act. Software technologies are at the center of our economy and playing a role in helping to transform industries in so many fields, including manufacturing, retail and health care. Recently, the federal courts have been grappling with the issue of which software innovations are eligible for protection under U.S. patent laws in the wake of the Alice v. CLS Bank decision. Today, in McRO (d.b.a. Planet Blue) v. Bandai Namco Games, the court issued a significant decision that gives us useful guidance for determining which software innovations qualify for protection and helping provide greater stability to the U.S. patent system, a foundation for our digital economy.

In short, the ruling today offered guidance in three key ways. First the court made clear that patent claims need to be considered as a whole, offering “We have previously cautioned that courts ‘must be careful to avoid oversimplifying the claims’ by looking at them generally and failing to account for the specific requirements of the claims.”

Second, the court emphasized that claims may be patent eligible if they represent a technological improvement. Per the opinion, “we therefore look to whether the claims in these patents focus on a specific means or method that improves the relevant technology or are instead directed to a result or effect that itself is the abstract idea …”

Third, the court made clear that data processing claims may be eligible even if they produce information rather than a physical product or result. In other words, today’s decision confirmed that there is no requirement of “tangibility.” As stated by the court, “While the result may not be tangible, there is nothing that requires a method “be tied to a machine or transform an article” to be patentable…. The concern underlying the exceptions to § 101 is not tangibility, but preemption.”

Of course, eligibility is only one aspect of patent protection, and whether the invention in this case is actually valid and infringed remains to be determined by lower courts, where important safeguards in the patent law may apply.

Overall, today’s major ruling will provide additional certainty to industries that generate more than $5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and 40 million American jobs.

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Teens are concerned about personal safety online, pessimistic about future risks http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/06/teens-are-concerned-about-personal-safety-online-pessimistic-about-future-risks/ Tue, 06 Sep 2016 13:00:20 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39647 Teens around the world are concerned about their personal safety online and expect internet-related risks to increase in the future, preliminary results of a new Microsoft study show. Adults and youth share an equally high concern about the current state of online risks, but data show youth are especially troubled by the expectation of sexual threats becoming worse. Results indicate young people are more likely to have experienced or been Read more »

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Teens around the world are concerned about their personal safety online and expect internet-related risks to increase in the future, preliminary results of a new Microsoft study show.

Adults and youth share an equally high concern about the current state of online risks, but data show youth are especially troubled by the expectation of sexual threats becoming worse. Results indicate young people are more likely to have experienced or been exposed to “sextortion,” [1] when it happened to them or someone in their immediate circle. (Research shows that especially when surveying youth, respondents are often more comfortable relaying what may have happened to a friend or family member versus the respondent directly.) More than one-third of youth who said they encountered sextortion reported that it happened nearly every time they went online.

In addition, findings suggest it is fairly common for youth to have come in contact with sexual threats in general, with 44 percent saying they’d personally experienced sexual threats or knew of instances among family and friends. Considering other high-incidence risks, youth also scored higher than adults when asked if they were treated meanly online, harassed or encountered hate speech.

Not surprising, youth report higher levels of online interactions than adults; say they encountered online risks more recently and more often, and suffered social and academic losses as a result of those negative online experiences. What may come as a surprise is that youth were more likely than adults to have confronted or retaliated against their offenders.

Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of young people said they met their offenders in person compared to 43 percent of adults. Youth were more likely to have been in contact with their offenders when negative behaviors involved online meanness, unwanted contact or trolling.

Unwanted contact was the chief compliant among both young people and adults, with 43 percent of all respondents saying they themselves had been the target of unwelcome contact at some point. That percentage swelled to 63 percent considering unwanted contact toward an individual respondent, as well as someone in his or her close circle.

The study, “Civility, Safety and Interaction Online – 2016,” polled youth ages 13-17 and adults ages 18-74 in 14 countries[2] about 17 different online risks, namely:

  • Reputational – “Doxing,” and other damage to personal or professional reputations
  • Behavioral – Being treated meanly; experiencing trolling, online harassment or bullying, and encountering hate speech
  • Sexual – Sending or receiving unwanted sexts and making sexual solicitations; being a victim of sextortion or non-consensual pornography (aka “revenge porn”), and
  • Personal and Intrusive – Being the target of unwanted contact, or experiencing discrimination, “swatting” or exposure to extremist content/recruiting.

These preliminary results are the latest in a series of research studies, both in the U.S. and internationally, on the state of digital civility, personal online safety and digital interactions. Full results will be made available on international Safer Internet Day 2017 on Feb. 7.

We’ve chosen to make this preliminary release, featuring data about teens in the back-to-school timeframe to remind young people about the need for smart, safe and respectful online habits at home, at school and on the go. We will follow with an early look at key data from the adult respondents in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, to learn more about online safety generally, visit our website and review our resources; “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

[1] In sextortion, predators typically pretend to be teens on social media and gaming sites. They befriend young people; gain their trust and entice them to send sexual photos and videos of themselves that the predators then threaten to release to family and friends if more explicit material fails to follow.

[2] Countries surveyed: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Computer science opportunities for young people explored in PBS series http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/09/01/computer-science-opportunities-young-people-explored-pbs-series/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 16:00:10 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39611 Roadtrip Nation is an organization on a mission to help young people answer the question “What is my road in life?” Through their documentary television series that airs on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), beginning Sept. 1, Roadtrip Nation follows young adults as they travel across the nation in a big, green RV, interviewing people who have built careers around a unique combination of skills and interests. Microsoft, through its Read more »

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Roadtrip Nation, Microsoft Philanthropies, YouthSpark, computer science education

Robin Maxkii, from left, Natalie Melo, Adam Wilson, Ian Bernstein and Zoed Mora.

Roadtrip Nation is an organization on a mission to help young people answer the question “What is my road in life?” Through their documentary television series that airs on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), beginning Sept. 1, Roadtrip Nation follows young adults as they travel across the nation in a big, green RV, interviewing people who have built careers around a unique combination of skills and interests. Microsoft, through its YouthSpark initiative, has partnered with Roadtrip Nation on a new season for PBS called “Code Trip,” which highlights both the incredible possibilities for young people in the technology industry, as well as the challenges faced by people from gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds that have historically been underrepresented in the technology industry.

The technology industry generally recognizes that the majority of people who are creating today’s technology aren’t representative of the populations they are creating it for. For example, in the average U.S.-based technology company, women only make up about 25 percent of the employee base while they make up half of the world’s population. The numbers of Hispanic, African-American, and Native American workers in the technology industry reflect a similar pattern, under-representative of the population as a whole. As a company whose mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” Microsoft recognizes that empowerment begins with inclusion. Roadtrip Nation is one way we’re partnering to foster a more inclusive technology industry by showing the diversity of career paths and people in computer science.

The “Code Trip’s” three “Road Trippers” – Natalie, Zoed and Robin – featured in the new season are an engaging group, each at various stages of their journey in computer science education and are representative of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Their trip across the U.S. starts in Southern California and ends in Boston, Massachusetts. Along the way they talk to men and women from across the technology industry about their varied pathways into the technology industry as well as their specific areas of work in their technology careers in areas like volcanology, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, robotics and security.

Perhaps most important, the individuals that Natalie, Zoed and Robin meet and learn from throughout their journey are people with backgrounds similar to theirs. This critical connection reinforces the belief that they too can succeed and thrive in computer science.

The opportunity to inspire and encourage young people, especially young people with backgrounds underrepresented in the technology industry is why Microsoft Philanthropies is such an enthusiastic sponsor of this season of “Roadtrip Nation.” As data suggests, there are a multitude of factors that inhibit a more representative technology industry employee base – from economic barriers, cultural and stereotypical biases, a lack of educational resources in our secondary schools, and too few role models who “look like” the broader population.

The “Code Trip” series highlights these issues and shares critical insight from people across the technology industry on how they have succeeded and thrived, and provides encouragement to keep going. Additionally, Roadtrip Nation provides a variety of resources for young people, teachers and guidance counselors to encourage the dialog to continue.

Microsoft, alongside many others in the industry, is working to bring the benefits of computer science education to all young people.  Through Microsoft YouthSpark,  we are investing in nonprofit organizations around the world to bring the benefits of computer science education to all youth, with a special focus on those youth we know are least likely to have access. We partner with parents, educators, nonprofit organizations and policy makers globally to create broader access to computer science education through programs like TEALS, which pairs technology industry professionals with classroom teachers to team teach computer science education in high schools across the U.S.

As our nonprofit partners around the world have shown us, technology empowers people, whether it is helping a young entrepreneur in Peru or providing a career that lifts entire families out of poverty. Technology enables incredible opportunities that should be available to everyone.

Help bring the benefits of computer science education to all young people by encouraging others to watch this season of “Code Trip,” leveraging the computer science education resources of our partners around the globe or if you’re in the U.S., by requesting computer science education in your school through TEALS.

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New resources to report hate speech, request content reinstatement http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/08/26/new-resources-report-hate-speech-request-content-reinstatement/ Fri, 26 Aug 2016 17:00:10 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39558 Microsoft is committed to creating safe online communities where our customers can learn, play, grow and interact without the threat of violence or hatred. That’s why for many years we’ve sought to protect our customers by prohibiting hate speech and removing such content from our hosted consumer services. While neither our principles nor our policies are changing, we are refining some of our processes to make it easier for customers Read more »

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Microsoft is committed to creating safe online communities where our customers can learn, play, grow and interact without the threat of violence or hatred. That’s why for many years we’ve sought to protect our customers by prohibiting hate speech and removing such content from our hosted consumer services. While neither our principles nor our policies are changing, we are refining some of our processes to make it easier for customers to report hate speech. We’re also simplifying requests to reinstate content that customers feel was removed in error.

Today we’re announcing a new dedicated web form for reporting hate speech on our hosted consumer services, and a separate web form for requests to reconsider and reinstate content.

Without question, the internet is overwhelmingly a force for good. We strive to provide services that are trustworthy, inclusive and used responsibly. Unfortunately, we know these services can also be used to advocate and perpetuate hate, prejudice and abuse. As part of our commitment to human rights, we seek to respect the broad range of users’ fundamental rights, including the rights to free expression and access to information, without fear of encountering hate speech or abuse. We also aim to foster safety and civility on our services; therefore, we’ve never — nor will we ever — permit content that promotes hatred based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • National or ethnic origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation/gender identity

We will continue our “notice-and-takedown” approach for removing prohibited content on hosted consumer services, and the new form aims to improve the quality and speed of our reviews. When hate speech is reported to us, we will evaluate each complaint, consider context and other factors, and determine appropriate action with respect to the content and the user’s account.

We take seriously our responsibilities in removing hate speech and addressing other violations of our terms of use, but we’re not perfect. We already provide customers, within various consumer products and services, the means to ask us to review a content removal decision they feel was made in error. And, just as we’re making it simpler for users to report hate speech, we’re also adding a new multi-service reconsideration form to request reinstatement of content that customers feel was disabled in error. We will review submissions via this new form, and if appropriate, reinstate the content.

Beyond streamlining the means for reporting, we’re working with the broader internet community to combat offensive content online. We work with governments, online safety advocates and other technology companies to ensure there is no place on our hosted consumer services for conduct that incites violence and hate. As one example, Microsoft recently joined major social media and video-sharing firms in support of the European Commission Code of Conduct countering illegal hate speech online – a joint effort to stop unlawful public incitement to violence and hatred across Europe.

Reports received from governments will be included as government requests in our semi-annual Content Removal Requests Report, published at the Microsoft Transparency Hub.

We understand and appreciate the nuance and complexity of these issues. Our hope is that with these steps, we more directly address hate speech on our hosted services; improve transparency in how we are tackling this offensive content online, and help to foster Microsoft communities where acceptance, inclusion and civility are the norm.

To help young people recognize misinformation and hate speech online, download this resource. To learn more about online safety generally, visit our website: www.microsoft.com/saferonline, view our other resources, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Microsoft study: Four in 10 US teens encounter cruel treatment online http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/08/24/microsoft-study-four-in-10-us-teens-encounter-cruel-treatment-online/ Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:30:02 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=39525 Nearly four in 10 American teens report that someone was mean or cruel to them in the digital world in the last year, and those negative comments most often stemmed from something the teens said or did, or were about their appearance, results of a new Microsoft study show. Thirty-nine percent of teens surveyed said someone had been mean or cruel to them when they were online or using their Read more »

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Nearly four in 10 American teens report that someone was mean or cruel to them in the digital world in the last year, and those negative comments most often stemmed from something the teens said or did, or were about their appearance, results of a new Microsoft study show.

Thirty-nine percent of teens surveyed said someone had been mean or cruel to them when they were online or using their cellphones in the 12 months ending June 2016, and more than half (52 percent) said the content of those hurtful messages was about something the teen said or did. Meanwhile, 45 percent said their appearance was the focus of the rude remarks, and 27 percent said they received mean messages about their sexual orientation, their gender (25 percent), or their race or ethnicity (24 percent).

The study, “Keeping Up with Generation App,” is the first in a series sponsored by Microsoft and focused on raising awareness about the need for “digital civility” across the globe. It was conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and polled 804 teens, ages 13 to 17 in the U.S., as well as 810 American parents of teens in the same age group.

“Parents, teachers and other adults who spend time with teens should be aware of the kinds of experiences teens are having online and should help them strategize responses to negative behaviors,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “Additionally, we should help teens understand the importance of treating their peers and others with respect online and work to reduce the incidents of cruel behavior.”

Indeed, teens indicated they are “not very likely” to turn to their parents for help with various online problems. Only one in five said they are “very likely” to share problems with parents or would do so “all the time;” 28 percent reported “never” consulting their parents. Conversely, 65 percent of parents said their kids are “very likely” to share concerns encountered online with them or would do so “all the time,” indicating a significant digital disconnect.

Many of the teens’ top online safety worries related to the privacy and security of personal information that could ultimately affect their online (and offline) reputations. For instance, teens reported they are “very concerned” that someone will access their accounts without their permission (47 percent); that someone will share personal information about them online that they would prefer to keep private (43 percent), or that someone will post a private photo or video of them online (38 percent).

These concerns still haven’t driven teens to be totally truthful with their parents about their online activities, however – another digital division among parents and teens. Sixty percent of teens said they’ve created an account that their parents are unaware of, such as on a social media site or for an app they want to use, and only 13 percent said their parents are “completely aware” of everything they do online. Meanwhile, 43 percent of parents are at least neutral when it comes to awareness of their children’s online activities, with only 3 percent claiming to be “completely aware.”

The results are the first in a short series of research studies, both in the U.S. and internationally, that we’re releasing in the lead-up to, and on, Safer Internet Day 2017, Feb. 7. Preliminary results of follow-on surveys will be made public in the weeks and months ahead. Looking across the range of results, age demographics and geographies, data show a broad need for a focus on “digital civility,” and we’ll have more to share on that in the coming months, as well.

In the meantime, to learn more about online safety generally, visit our website and check out our resources; “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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